As people of culture, we have to work hard to reclaim and reimagine our ancestral traditions, navigating histories and presents shot through with psychic shadows such as polarization, suppression of spiritual knowledges, structures and relationships of domination.
When 'your blood is not in the game' (to quote a fellow healer and seer), these traditions are not yours to consume, commodify, cutify. Implying your full participation in traditions you don't carry is a way of tokenizing them. Centering yourself in cultural contexts that you are outside of is not true respect or appreciation—neither of these contexts, nor of those carrying these lineages.
Educate yourself about the continuing fictions of colonialism and white supremacy. See through your own assumptions. Know the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. Don't step into a place if you cannot stand there on earth both as a blessing and a responsibility.
In revisiting "When Yoginis Appear With Animals: Animistic Relational Elements and the Non-Dual Matrix" to present at the Oct 6 ASWM Scholar Salon, I found myself thinking about some things:
1. Secular scholarship practises, often uncritically, historiography stripped of enchantment. What would it be like for us as historians and readers of history to be permeated with a sensing of our human past as filled with magic?—negotiations with the natural world? Instead of seeing our ancestors as imbued with the 'non-wild' subjectivity that secular-colonial historical writing would have us believe, what might we learn if we change our lens to one that that recognizes our ancestors practicing in relationship with the sacred, with nature?
2. It doesn't matter how the pathology in our cultural-ancestral stories got in. What matters is that we drop it here. What matters is that we choose to leave it behind, renewing the futures available.
"With actions I take now, I change the past." —Andrea Hairston in Mindscape (quote from memory)
3. It is amazing how so many written accounts of events focus on masculine/patriarchal histories of war, conquest, domination.
What about the feminine/matriarchal histories of cooperation? And, what about sage histories of wisdom and veneration?
How do we recast the project of history? Which knowledges—through their transmission, integration, and revitalization—could help create life-affirming cultures?
In the ancient and medieval Indian literatures I was reading or reading about, several narratives classed women—along with 'slaves,' elephants, horses, cows—as objects to be enslaved and traded—after wars; to gift to brahmins.
I do not consent to this history.
This history enrages me, makes me furious.
I want to tear down and through patriarchal histories/narratives, and replace them with pasts that give dignity to women, to nature, to our inextricable connection with the alive earth.
How much of these literatures reflect that age-old problem in scholarship: the collapse of context?
4. What would change in the present and future collective psyche of India if the transformational impulses at the root of this ancient civilization came to shape our imaginary in the form of living, extraordinary knowledge of located ecology? If the cultural histories we tell ourselves were to be informed by an understanding of our deeply intertwined-symbiotic relationship with the wild—women at the center of emergence?
5. Making lateral moves as a theoretician allows me to put forth claims that are yet to be accepted: claims that have arrived as insights.
"Going outside the accredited realm of historiography means daring to be dubbed ahistorical." —Emma Pérez, The Decolonial Imaginary
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