Native-Cultures

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This video explores how Disney uses languages in songs throughout several of its movies, including Moana, Frozen, Brother Bear, Lilo and Stitch, and Pocahontas.  

Some things I learned from watching?  

  • The difficulties of translating songs because of syllable differences between languages
  • Moana’s We Know The Way seamlessly transitions between Tokelauan and English without changing the melody - something new to Disney 
  • How songs sung by characters on screen vs. songs sung off screen in native languages can convey culture to an audience
  • Some songs in Brother Bear were sung in Iñupiat but by a Bulgarian choir 
  • Nani sings Aloha’Oe to Lilo, a song about farewells written by Queen Lili'uokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch 
  • A lot of Native American music is sung with vocables:  syllables that don’t have linguistic meaning but are significant as lyrics for music 
Dear non-natives

The Plains warbonnet is not a Cherokee thing. It is not a Navajo thing. It is not an Indian thing. It is a Plains thing.

Stop calling every silly thing you draw that even vaguely resembles a native “Cherokee” or “Navajo” or “Aztec.”

Stop drawing the warbonnet everywhere as the apparently definitive native thing. It isn’t part of all of our 600+ cultures.

Same goes for the tipi, not part of every one of the 600+ indigenous cultures.

Stop thinking that if a native person doesn’t have dark, “mahogany” skin, that their heritage is invalid. Even without admixture, we actually do have varying skin tones.

Stop wearing crappy fake warbonnets.

Stop wearing redface.

Stop using us as your silly mascots. We are people.

Stop saying “spirit animal.” It’s derived from a New Age bastardization of a something that actually exists in some of our cultures.

Don’t smudge. Cleanse all you like, that’s fine, but don’t smudge.

Don’t call us “Indians.” “Native American” isn’t great either, it is not our name, but it’s slightly better than “Indian.” “Indigenous” is also fine.

Don’t use NDN/ndn. That is ours.

Step off about our hair. If you meet a long-haired native, admire it if you like, maybe even ask them about it (RESPECTFULLY), but do not touch. The same applies for someone with short hair, but additionally for those with short hair, don’t say things like “oh you’d look more native/Indian/etc if your hair was long.” We didn’t all traditionally have long, flowing hair. Believe it or not, there are actually different haircuts existing in our various cultures, and aside from that ultimately it’s a personal choice, one does not need to have long hair if they don’t want to. Doesn’t make them any less native to have short hair.

Don’t pray to our spirits/gods/energies. Native spiritualities are closed, they are not for outsiders.

Don’t say “The Native Americans believed…” Firstly, the past tense is silly, we still exist and do things. Secondly, we are NOT A MONOLITH. As I mentioned before, there are upwards of 600 different Native American cultures.

Don’t ask about someone’s “Indian name.” That’s not only insensitive, the name you are referring to in that instance is something sacred, and might not be something that person wants to share with you.

Don’t call yourself silly crap like “howling wolf” or “flying eagle.” That’s also racist and insensitive.

Regardless of whatever you might think you’re doing, or what your intentions may be, if a native person tells you that what you’re doing is disrespectful, STOP DOING IT.

You aren’t honoring us. You’re just mocking us further, demonstrating your continued ability to treat us like shit and get away with it even now, centuries after our colonization began. Your feelings are not more important than our history and survival.

To those doing your best as allies, thank you, keep doing what you do. HOWEVER, don’t let opportunities to educate others escape you. By letting them continue to be ignorant, you are failing. Spread the message.

There will be no “please.” It’s been more than 500 years, and we still are made to be invisible in our homelands. Still we are treated like less. Some even think we all died long ago.

We are still here

We will still be here

Treat us with respect.

“I am Native American from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska. My Indian name means ‘shooting star.’ I wish the world knew that we do still exist. And, no, we don’t all live in tepees. When I see people in headdresses or Native American accessories, I feel disrespected. They don’t know the meaning behind it, how we wear it, or what we do to earn it. This is a real eagle feather. It doesn’t just fall off an eagle and someone says, ‘Oh, here — it’s yours.’ You have to earn it in my culture. I feel powerful when I wear it, more confident, and more connected to my ethnicity. I’ve never been embarrassed about being Native American. I take pride in it. I love how spiritual we are — it’s like we’re in tune with the Earth and the universe. I know there’s no other culture out there like mine.”

Daunnette Reyome

4

The Most Dangerous Island on Earth - North Sentinel Island

Throughout human history a typical theme has been the domination of more technologically advanced societies over “simpler” or “more primitive” ones. In fact in the past 500 years, European societies would come to dominate the world, spreading their culture, often through force of arms or outright genocide.  More often than not, the meeting of Old World peoples with New World natives tended to end very badly for the natives. Many cultures were wiped out, many more assimilated or adapted their cultures with European culture. Today there are few places where people living have not in some way been touched by the modern world. One notable exception is North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal.

Officially North Sentinel Island is territory of India, part of the Andaman Islands. In reality the people of North Sentinel Island are their own people, free from any known government or modern organization.  Apparently, the Sentinelese are very much happy to keep it that way. Throughout their entire known history, the Sentinelese have been known to viciously fight against any trespass or incursion on their small island. Going back to ancient times the Indians called the island “Cannibal Island”, and told many tales of the dangerous and ruthless natives who inhabited it. Those tales were passed on to the ancient Greeks after the invasion of northern India by Alexander the Great, and thus the infamous legends of the island were mention by Ptolemy. Marco Polo recieved word of the island during his travels to China, writing about the islanders, “They are a most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch.” 

Since then, every expedition to island has been met with extreme hostility, and as a result the island has been left untouched to this day. Throughout the 16th-18th centuries many an explorer or shipwrecked sailor met their end on the island at the hands of the Sentinelese. In 1867 a British merchant ship shipwrecked on the island, and its surviivg 110 man crew spent several days fighting off the islanders with guns and swords. Many were killed and wounded in the battle before rescue. This prompted an expedition of reprisal by the Royal Navy who landed marines on the island a short time later. Most of the Sentinelese had disappeared into hiding, knowing that they couldn’t fight a battle against such overwhelming force. In the end the British left in frustration with two elderly Sentinelese and four children.

Today the idea of angry natives attacking shipwrecked sailors or explorers might be something you’d only see in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, however Sentinelese resistance to the outside world continued so that even in the 20th century people tended to steer clear of the island. In 1974 a film crew from National Geographic landed on the island in modern boats in an attempt to make contact with the islanders with peace offerings of a box of coconuts, a baby doll, and a live pig. The Sentinelese met the crew fully armed and ready for war. As a result, a the National Geographic director took an arrow to the knee, the pig was mutilated alive, and the crew was forced to bug out under a hail of arrows and spears. 

In 1981 the cargo ship Primrose shipwrecked on the island, and the Sentinelese immediately surrounded the ship, shooting at the crew with bows and several times attempting to board the ship. The crew not only radioed for help, but asked for an urgent airdrop of firearms so they could defend themselves. The drop was delayed by weather but the crew were able to fend off the attacks with a pistol, firefighting axes, and flare guns. They were rescued after a week long siege. The Sentinelese dismantled much of the ship and used the scrap iron for arrow and spearheads. It’s remaining hull can still be seen from google earth.

The only known man to peacefully visit the island was an anthropologist named Trilokinath Prandit in 1991, who several times landed on the island with gifts which he left upon the beach.  When he did meet the natives they shot arrows at him and waved their genitals at him. However at one point he was able to make peaceful contact with some of the natives. However as as he left the island, the natives had a change of heart and began shooting arrows at him once more, he hasn’t been back since.

Today North Sentinelese Island is protected by the Indian Government and it is illegal to land there. The reasons for this are to keep the Sentinelese culture intact, and prevent the spread of disease from the island. Note that in history native peoples often suffered deadly diseases after making contact with newcomers. Another reason for creating a 3 mile exclusionary zone around the island is because in 2006 two drunk fisherman landed on the island and were murdered. Thus the Indian Government set up the contact ban to protect outsiders from the Sentinelese as much as protecting the Sentinelese from the outside world. In 2004 an Indian Coast Guard helicopter flew over the island to see if the Setinelese were OK after the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, and to offer help if needed. The helicopter found that the Sentinelese were not only OK after the tsunami, but didn’t want anything any aid at all as they fired arrows at the helicopter.

 Today we still no nothing about the language, culture, and ethnicity of the Sentinelese Islanders. The only pictures we have of them are from the occasional illegal drone which buzzes over the island, and is typically met with a hail of arrows. It seems that despite seeing things such as ships, helicopters, and robotic drones, the Sentinelese don’t want fuck all to do with the modern world.

Horizon Zero Dawn and Cultural appropriation: A very different view.

For the first time EVER, I’m sitting on the other side of a discussion about appropriating native culture.  Why?  Well, let me lay the framework.

First off, I’m not a guy who “knows a Native American” or has a “Native friend”  I am a 100% Anishinabe (Ojibway) dude who lives on reserve and has fought racism, stereotypes, pan-Indianism, and cultural appropriation fiercely for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the victim of horrendous racial violence as a child, adolescent, and adult, and I’m also a gamer.

I am the first to point out anything that smacks of any of the above and after I saw the Dia Lacina essay on “Horizon: Zero Dawn” being culturally insensitive and appropriating Native culture, I felt for the first time in a situation like this that I had to say something in rebuttal.

Lacina takes issue with the use of the words Tribal, Primitive, Braves, and Savage being used in the game (fyi they’re used to describe predominantly white people in game and they’re White words we didn’t use to describe ourselves thus I claim no ownership of, nor want to, anymore than I want to be a redskin, Indian or Wahoo)  

It seems (IMO) that most of her beef comes from an apparent belief that numerous aspects of generic tribal culture that appear in the game (making clothing from skins, hunting with spears and bows, living in a Matriarchal society, etc) are the sole domain of the Native American and just to be safe and cleverly keep her POV less subject to scrutiny, she applies it even more broadly to indigenous people world wide (I will just refer to us in particular as NA cuz I’m lazy and I also don’t refer to myself as a Native American) and basically that anything that is remotely “tribal” shouldn’t be used in gaming without our or someone else’s permission.

 In fairness, I don’t know if she’s actually played the game but as someone who is currently in the midst of doing exactly that, I can tell you that I have a pretty good idea of what stuff triggered her being upset and why, and while I absolutely respect her right to get offended by whatever she likes, and she makes excellent points about some other games, I am going to point out that there are flaws with this logic.

First of all, the basics: HZD is set in a post-post-apocalyptic future where people are living in tribal groups in a very destroyed world.  Machines exist but as hybrid animal/dinosaur type creatures and technology is pretty much non-existent in day to day human life.  

The heroine of the story is a red haired, white girl named Aloy who lives as an outcast with her adopted father, Rost.  Without giving a lot away, they are fiercely shunned by the local tribe for something Rost did and also the fact that Aloy is motherless.  

Impressively and rightly, though somewhat dismissively remarked upon by Lacina, is the way women and especially women of color are portrayed so positively in-game as this particular tribe is a total Matriarchy run by elders of various ethnicity.  African, Asian, White, and a variety of undefined people of color are common everywhere in the game.  (The leader of one band of warriors is a very fierce, commanding, intelligently portrayed black woman with a powerful presence.)  It reflects a fairly global society from a “skin color” perspective without any horrible accents or broken speech.

They worship an “All-Mother” goddess and their culture is (at least how I saw a lot of it) fairly heavy on European i.e. Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc type symbolism and the rest is filled in with mostly generic tribal-ish stuff that you could find in countless cultures around the world.

 I really didn’t get a “Native American” vibe off the game.  Of course, I don’t automatically presume to claim sole ownership of things like tribal life, hunting with bows and spears, and worshiping spirits of various elements solely for my own.  Random fact: Because there are over 500 distinct First Nations in N. America, we, believe it or not, didn’t all ride horses, live in tipis, use bows and arrows, tobacco and sage, and worship Eagles and Wolves.  Why? Well…use your brain.  Tobacco and Sage don’t grow EVERYWHERE, horses came over with the Europeans (and if you saw where I live you couldn’t have and cant for the most part get a horse through the bush if you tried) Eagles and Wolves don’t live EVERYWHERE….get the point?  Anyways….

If you examine Rost, he like most of the men has a braided beard and other seemingly Viking/Middle Ages inspired features, is white, speaks clear, unbroken English, and is a loving, protective and very positive role model for the girl.   Aloy for her part, is also fairly Viking-esque (to the point of looking incredibly like Lagaertha from the show Vikings but with red hair) also Egrit from GoT, and is no damsel in distress who needs men to save her. NOWHERE in the game have I encountered any Tipis, wigwams, Sweatlodges, or Non-White people speaking in stereotypical “Me smoke-um peace pipe, He go dat-a way” fashion.

The  opening cinematic is very touching (and long) as we see the orphaned Aloy as a baby in Rost’s care being carried around in a bundle on his back (which pretty much every culture did in one form or another at some point in time) and him ultimately taking her to the spot where a child of the tribe receives it’s name.

I really liked this idea as it isn’t often portrayed in a lot of mediums outside of stereotypical “Dances With Wolves” bullshit. Also, naming ceremonies are not the sole domain of NA people and what occurs bears zero resemblance to any NA ceremony I know of.  (It was actually a little Lion King at one point lol) But it’s a powerful moment in the beginning with much more that occurs during it but I won’t spoil that either.

Aloy herself is a pretty complex character.  She’s extremely independent, defiant, and questions pretty much everything about why things are the way they are and wants to do something about it.  You actually begin playing her as a 6 year old which is pretty unique and even then she’s tough and fearless and determined to explore her world.  

She is in no way hyper-sexualized (I’m looking your way Overwatch) Her clothing and everyone else’s, is utilitarian and appropriate for the environments she lives in, and so far, I have not encountered anything with her or any other character that made me go “WTF?”and trust me, my radar for that shit is HIGHLY SENSITIVE.  This isn’t Avatar, people.  It’s not John Smith. It’s not The Great Wall or Pocahontas.  This isn’t white dude shows up and saves the helpless non-white people while helpless native woman falls in love with him stuff.  It’s a fictitious future where we maniacs blew it up, damn us all to hell!

But here’s the more annoying thing for me as an actual Anishinabe.  I don’t need people speaking for me or getting offended on my behalf.  I am very capable of doing that myself. I am also in no way writing this claiming to be speaking for any other NA people or persons. It’s based on my observations from actually playing HZD and examining the various fictional “cultural” elements in the game.

If you see a skin tied inside a hoop and automatically assume it’s a dreamcatcher” ripping off “our culture” (FYI Dreamcatchers are a 20th century thing whose popularity was a result of pan-Indianism that exploded in the 70s.) or if you see feathers on a spear or as part of a costume (nowhere is anyone wearing a single eagle feather in the back of a beaded headband or a Dakota looking headdress either) and automatically presume it to be ripping off NA culture, you’re REEEEEEEEEEALY reaching.  If you think caring for the environment, obeying matriarchs, worshipping elemental spirits, or making your own clothes is solely the property of NA culture, see previous statement.

By all means get offended.  Get offended by Chief Wahoo.  Get offended by the Washington Redskins.  Get offended that thousands of Native women have been murdered or gone missing and nothing’s been done about it.  Get offended by Johnny Depp or Robert Beltran playing Native people instead of actual Native people getting those roles.  Get offended by shit like Adam Sandler’s “Ridiculous 6” where a native woman is called a “hot piece of red prairie meat” or Depp’s “Lone Ranger” movie.

Get offended that my family was destroyed by the Residential Schools and that the 60s scoop took babies away from their families and people, that forced sterilizations took place and mass graves of dead Native children exist at former Residential School sites.

Don’t just jump on the I’m offended bandwagon because you saw some feathers or skins or spears or bows in a game and immediately grew indignant and wanted to claim them as OUR culture.  They’re not.  They’re almost globally universal in numerous cultures at various points in time.  Get offended, as she rightly mentioned, when the game Overwatch sexualizes the shit out of almost every female character and takes West Coast tribal art and makes a costume out of it.  

THAT is appropriation.  White people holding powwows in Europe (powwows are also pretty much not traditional and are extremely pan-Indian, not to mention full of us appropriating each other’s Native cultures ie. Dakotas wearing Jingle Dresses, Ojibway wearing Dakota regalia, etc) is appropriation.

This game……I’m just not seeing it the same way.  And I’m nobody.  I have no ties to Guerilla or anybody other than myself and my community.

anonymous asked:

Before you defend males being witches I think you need to step back and realize why people are hesitant about involving males in witchcraft. Historically males were the ones burning and murdering females for witchcraft. It's no coincidence why women are more strongly associated with life/death, magic, etc. It's not transphobic to say this and that men deserve no acceptance in something women were persecuted (and in some areas still are). Women own witchcraft.

I’m sorry if you thought you’d be informing me of something I had no clue of,  but earnestly this whole “Women own witchcraft” is the very most idiotic, Euro centric argument I have ever heard in Witch Discourse.

You need to get off your racist, sexist high horse right this instant.

I’ve done research and experienced witchcraft in my own culture and have knowledge of the witch hunts of the 1600s. It’s not a case of “The evil males murdering women!!!” It was a case of both women and men who used their religion to murder people horrifically and senselessly out of ignorance and fear. Both genders were the perpetrators and victims, both genders were the victims. Some women are more in tune to their spirituality and open to witchcraft due to the way western culture has brought women and men act. In other cultures, men are more likely to be spiritual leaders, or it may be perfectly egalitarian. 

Saying that women own witchcraft because men in their culture fucked shit up for witches is essentially saying that atheists and pagans alone own witchcraft because Christians fucked shit up for witches. 

Saying that women own witchcraft is like saying that poc own witchcraft because of imperialism’s damage to poc’s culture. 

Saying that women own witchcraft is like saying that only people born to witch families own witchcraft.

Inherently, all people, males included, have the same amount of spiritual potential and energy. The way some people’s witchcraft works is recognizing that we are all witches, we are all beings with energies and spirituality and we choose to develop and partake in our own. Blocking off half the population for crimes they did not commit is disgusting.

Not to mention how GODDAMN RACIST THIS IS!

I come from Miami, and in Miami I’ve experienced a lot of the Santeria culture. Here, people mostly talk about it when there’s dead chickens washing up on shores after sacrifices or when dead animals are dropped off in bags at the courthouse, and I’m going to assume that you think witchcraft is revamped spells from the 1600s where animal bones are cutely replaced with some other herb followed by crystals sitting on the shelf.

However..

Santería is a culture of witches. Santería is very valid witchcraft, it is sometimes bloody and not cute and not adapted to Western Culture but that is the goddamn point. There are males that practice witchcraft in this culture, in fact leaders of all genders.

Native Indigenous culture have had Shamanism and related spiritualistic religions, there are so many tribes where witchcraft comes in the forms of women, men and non binary people such as the complex Two Spirit identity doing rituals, sacrifices, meditations… witchcraft is the practice of magick, and guess who practices magick?

These babies! See the things in grey! Those are called non western civilizations! Theses are places where thousands of individual communities exist, all with their own religions and native cultures! And most of them have all practiced some form of magick! Both men and women and non binary people!

If you’re a crystal witch, male or female or nonbinary Shamans probably made or sold you your crystals. Your lore could be from a Jewish Rabbi, of Jewish Mysticism. Or the Muslim intertwining of pagan and occultism. Or it could be the literal God Of Witchcraft, Thoth, in Egyptian culture. It could be an Alchemist, such as Gilles de Rais or Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, all males murdered for their practicing witchcraft. The masks and skulls bought may very well be from Ghana tribes that were used as Talismans, or certain artifacts and rituals may come from Benin, West African tribes and communities. 

You do not, never have, never will own witchcraft. No one ever will. And if you think men should be excluded, then only female, magick inherited African tribes victim to imperialism should own witchcraft.

Thank you for reading, and fuck Euro Centric supremacy.

the-spockicorn  asked:

Hi, I’ve been considering starting a book in the fantasy genre. I really wanted to give some Native American representation in it, since it's something that I rarely see. However, this story wouldn't take place in America, it would be in a completely different world (though one loosely based off of earth in the 14 hundreds ish?) This is similar to your mixing cultures post, but I wanted to know: is there a good way to give Native American representation in stories that aren’t historical fiction?

Representing PoC in Fantasy When Their Country/Continent Doesn’t Exist

The core of this question is something we’ve gotten across a few different ethnicities, and it basically boils down to: “how can I let my readers know these people are from a certain place without calling them by this certain place?” Aka, how can I let people know somebody is Chinese if I can’t call them Chinese, or, in your case, some Native American nation without having a North America.

Notes on Language

As I have said multiple times, there is no such thing as “Native American culture”. It’s an umbrella term. Even if you are doing fantasy you need to pick a nation and/or confederacy.

Step One

How do you code somebody as European?

This sounds like a very silly question, but consider it seriously.

How do you?

They probably live in huts or castles; there are lords and kings and knights; they eat stew and bread and drumsticks; they celebrate the winter solstice as a major holiday/new year; women wear dresses while men wear pants; there are pubs and farms and lots of wheat; the weather is snowy in winter and warm in summer.

Now swap all those components out for whatever people you’re thinking about.

Iroquois? They live in longhouses; there is a confederacy and democracy and lots of warriors from multiple nations; they eat corn, beans, and squash (those three considered sacred and grown together), with fish and wild game; they wear mostly leather garments with furs in winter; there are nights by the fire and cities and the rituals will change by the nation (remember the Iroquois were a confederacy made up of five or six tribes, depending on period); the weather is again snowy in winter and warm in summer.

Chinese? They harvest rice; there is an emperor appointed by the gods and scholars everywhere; they use a lunar calendar and have a New Year in spring; their trade ships are huge and their resources are plenty; they live in wood structures with paper walls or mud brick; they use jade and ivory for talismans; their culture is hugely varied depending on the province; their weather is mostly tropical, with monsoons instead of snow on lowlands, but their mountains do get chilly.

You get the gist.

Break down what it is that makes a world read as European (let’s be honest, usually English and Germanic) to you, then swap out the parts with the appropriate places in another culture.

Step Two

Research, research, research. Google is your friend. Ask it the questions for “what did the Cree eat” and “how did Ottoman government work.” These are your basics. This is what you’ll use to figure out the building blocks of culture.

You’ll also want to research their climate. As I say in How To Blend Cultures, culture comes from climate. If you don’t have the climate, animals, plants, and weather down, it’ll ring false.

You can see more at So You Want To Save The World From Bad Representation.

Step Three

Start to build the humans and how they interact with others. How are the trade relations? What are the internal attitudes about the culture— how do they see outsiders? How do outsiders see them? Are there power imbalances? How about greed and desire to take over?

This is where you need to do even more research on how different groups interacted with others. Native American stories are oftentimes painful to read, and I would strongly suggest to not take a colonizer route for a fantasy novel.

This does, however, mean you might not be researching how Natives saw Europeans— you’ll be researching how they saw neighbours. 

You’ll also want to look up the social rules to get a sense for how they interacted with each other, just for character building purposes.

Step Four

Sensitivity readers everywhere! You’ll really want to get somebody from the nation to read over the story to make sure you’ve gotten things right— it’s probably preferable to get somebody when you’re still in the concept stage, because a lot of glaring errors can be missed and it’s best to catch them before you start writing them.

Making mistakes is 100% not a huge moral failing. Researching cultures without much information on them is hard. So long as you understand the corrections aren’t a reflection on your character, just chalk them up to ignorance (how often do most writers get basic medical, weapon, or animal knowledge wrong? Extremely often). 

Step Five

This is where you really get into the meat of creating people. You’ve built their culture and environment into your worldbuilding, so now you have the tools you need to create characters who feel like part of the culture.

You’ll really want to keep in mind that every culture has a variety of people. While your research will say people roughly behave in a certain way, people are people and break cultural rules all the time. Their background will influence what rules they break and how they relate to the world, but there will be no one person who follows every cultural rule down to the letter. 

Step Six

Write!

Step Seven

More sensitivity readers! See step 4 for notes.

Step Eight

Rewrite— and trust me, you will need to. Writing is rewriting.

Repeat steps seven and eight until story is done.

Extra Notes

I’ll be honest— you’re probably going to need a certain amount of either goodwill (if you’re lucky enough to make friends within the group you’re trying to represent— but seriously, please do not make friends with us for the sole purpose of using us as sensitivity readers. It’s not nice) and/or money to get to publishing level. 

The good part is the first three steps are free, and these first three steps are what will allow you to hurt others less when you approach. While you’ll still likely make mistakes, you’ll make a few less (and hopefully no glaring ones, but it can/does happen) so long as you do your due diligence in making sure you at least try to understand the basics.

And once you feel like you’ve understood the basics… dive down even deeper because chances are you’re about to reach a tipping point for realizing how little you know.

People will always find you did something wrong. You will never get culture 100% accurate— not even people who were born and raised in it will, because as I said in step five: cultures have a huge variety of people in them, so everyone will interact with it differently. But you can work your hardest to capture one experience, make it as accurate as possible, and learn more for next time.

~ Mod Lesya 

Advice to Baby Witches

Here’s some things I wish someone told me when I was first starting out

  • You’re gonna find a lot of sources that are Wiccan. So if you don’t want to follow Wicca, it might be harder to find things that talk from a non- Wiccan perspective. This is not the only perspective. I encourage you even if you are wanting to follow Wicca to seek out specifically non-Wiccan sources to get a different view point. (nothing against Wicca here; I just think it’s healthy to get differing opinions)


  • It’s still witchcraft even if it doesn’t look like what books/Internets witchcraft looks like. Remember that:
    1. Everyone has a different way of doing things and your craft will never ever be the same as anyone else’s.
    2. The people posting about what witchcraft they’ve done are most of the time showing a perfected version of it. You are just starting out. You should not hold yourself up to the standards of people who have had more time and practice.
    3. It’s actually good that it doesn’t look like anyone else’s because that means that it’s entirely your own.
  • I know it can feel very daunting first getting involved in witchcraft because there is so much to learn. Trust me, you cannot learn everything, and that is okay.


  • Take things step by step. Find something that really excites you. For example, say you are really interested in deity worship. Focus on just that first. Research different deities and meditate on the ones that interest you. Once you feel like you’ve learned enough (you don’t have to be an expert by any means, just to a point where you feel like you have your foot in the door) then you can move on to something else. You don’t have to do it this way, but I found it helped me narrow things down.


  • The idea that “if you don’t know what your doing with witchcraft it can backfire” is a myth. Don’t be afraid to explore, learn new things. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend doing anything outside your skill level either. Maybe save the big deal curses for when you have a good grasp on them. Listen to your intuition on this one, if you feel like something you’re doing is too much for you, don’t do it right away, but work your way up. Don’t give up on it, either. Like I said, if you feel like you don’t have the ability to do something, get to a point where you do.


  • You will have thoughts like “this won’t work” “you’re being stupid” “it’s just some *conventionally useless item*, that can’t do ANYTHING” this is okay. Any intrusive thoughts that tell you it’s not going to work are fine, especially if you are mentally ill. It does not mean your magic looses it’s power because you had an intrusive thought. Yes, the best way to make your magic work is to believe it will work, but intrusive thoughts will not automatically stop the magic from working. Just try your best to overcome them, whatever technique you have for that will work fine. I always use my inner voice to talk back to my intrusive thoughts and say something like “What? That doesn’t even make sense! You’re being ridiculous, random voice in my head that has no attachment to me.” and try to ignore it. Your mental illness does not make you a less powerful of a witch, remember that.


  • You are much more powerful than you realize. Own this. Be empowered by it.


  • You don’t have to have a whole bunch of extravagant altars and read your tarot cards and meditate every day to be considered a ‘real’ witch. You do magic without even realizing it sometimes. It’s sometimes hard to do anything big because of busy schedules/low spoons/being closeted or whatever. Try and incorporate little things in your daily routine. I did this by Stirring my tea clockwise and focusing on the cup, while repeating “this tea will improve my day” in my head. It works great for practicing putting your intent in things, focusing your energy, and it can even work if you live in an unfriendly witch household! Get creative with the little things you can do everyday. And even if you can’t do those things sometimes, don’t worry about it!


  • Be very careful about cultural appropriation in your practice. It can get very dicey as to what is offensive to include in your practice and what is not. I can tell you straight up right now that anything taken from a Native American culture is not okay to incorporate in your practice. A very popular thing that’s taken from Native American culture is smudging. Don’t smudge. There are many alternatives to this. That being said, some things are ok to take from other cultures because those cultures aren’t practiced by living people/are part of a culture or religion that is open to outsiders taking it. Don’t bat yourself up for doing something then finding out it was offensive, because when you recognize it then take necessary steps to fix it, that’s you growing as a person and is a positive change. If you aren’t sure if what your doing is cultural appropriation, ask yourself:


    1. Is what I’m doing practiced by a group of people today? if yes, you’re in the danger zone, but it does not  necessarily mean it is appropriation
    2. Is the religion that it comes from a closed or open religion? (this means is it ok for outsiders, people who do not follow the religion, to practice it. example-Judaism=closed, wicca=open) If closed, it’s probably appropriation.
    3. Am I apart of a race that has a history of oppressing this group of people? If yes, you might want to be cautious about it.
    4. If it is deity related- Do the deities in question give me permission? if no, then definitely do not do it.
    5. What would a person from that religion/culture think if they saw me doing this? If they would not like it, it might not be okay.
    6. Is this from my heritage/ancestral background? Don’t worry too much if the answer is no but you passed most of the other questions, This one is mostly because if you grew up in a Jewish/Catholic/Muslim/other closed religion household, wanting to incorporate that in your practice is ok.


  • You do not have to be religious to practice witchcraft. Your craft can exclude deity work of any kind.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what you feel are stupid questions. If your really scared, google is a very handy tool and most blogs have that anon option for a reason. :p

Mmk, spoons are low. Feel free to add any advice you think I’m missing. I really hope this helps someone!

#DearNonNatives: Don’t call yourself a feminist if you’re going to ignore the missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country, or the 1 in 3 Native women who were sexually assaulted, or the white washed and hypersexualized images of Native women in the media.