One of the many reasons that I’ve found it hard to return to practice postpartum is not knowing where I and my practice fit, as seen through the lens of anti-oppression and social justice. How can I ensure that my practice, my work, my involvement in North American-style Druidry does not harm others, or present ourselves as more authentic than we are?
Authenticity is a difficult aspect of my personal development and understanding. In almost everything I do, I feel like an impostor, or a fraud. And now, in a realm where I once felt quite confident, I feel even moreso fraudulent when I, a white person of different European backgrounds tries to find her own spirituality on stolen land. I don’t speak Irish or Ukrainian, am not involved in diasporan communities or living tradition. I have not been given any Anishinaabe teachings nor do I feel I have the right to them. I am extremely cautious of my practice being colonising or racist. What this has caused is paralysis and uncertainty, which is not the goal; perfectionism is my weakness.
I am trying to once more come into my own hearth practice, as you’ve all seen me struggle with, wavering back and forth on confidence. But we cannot grow if we don’t take any steps towards growth, if we don’t feed ourselves with practice and knowledge and exploration, and perhaps most importantly, self-reflection and willingness to listen. I did not choose to be where I am, and very few of us do. But it is my responsibility to understand the privileges that I have in my life and to do right by them, as best I can.
In a sense, I feel like I have lost something. With no cultural connections of my own – unless you count white capitalist culture, which I’d rather not uphold – where do we (ie, my hearth) fit? What is ours? What can we fully engage in respectfully? Indeed, this is the concern of a lot of people who first engage with this work, and it comes out as a fear of losing what they already have, the power they possess. I see it especially in some of my white male friends, who have very little sense of belonging to anything other than consumption of media.
I want to do my best at living a connected life, with the Earth, and with those spirits with whom I have built relationships, and in this community, and I want to do so in a way which honours them all, in good hospitality. To this end, I strive to:
- understand the treaties of this land and my obligations as a treaty person;
- support our local Indigenous community;
- continue educating myself on feminism, anti-racism, anti-oppression, and anti-capitalism;
- understand the traditions that we include in our wheel year celebrations, where they come from, and how to approach them respectfully without removing them from their cultural contexts;
- be clear with my sources for the above, ensuring priority is given to Irish and Ukrainian voices.
Maybe this isn’t enough. What do you think? How do you ensure that your practices and your paganism are respectful to the cultures from which they come, and what are you doing to uphold that?