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Appropriation of Witchcraft

So we've talked about closed practices, but how does cultural appropriation apply to witchcraft? First, let’s define cultural appropriation by breaking down the two words. “Culture” encompasses practices, ideas, and things of a group of people who have those things in common. We often think of cultural items when we hear the words “cultural appropriation”. However, culture is not limited to tangible things. For example, we often hear things like “Beyoncé is my spirit animal” in good natured fun. However, spirit animals have a long history across many indigenous cultures. Saying that Beyoncé is a spirit animal is disrespectful to the culture that actually uses spirit animals in their practices.


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Meanwhile “appropriation” is a slippery slope and we often find ourselves slipping and sliding by the end of the route. It is best to understand “appropriation” by replacing it with the word, “plagiarism”. So, now we have “cultural plagiarism”. Plagiarism is basically stealing without crediting the original creators. Thus, cultural plagiarism is the stealing of a cultural identity without proper respect or knowledge of said culture.


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In the mundane world we see cultural appropriation quite often in the fashion industry. Fashion designers use traditional clothing from a culture to sell more clothes, and therefore are stealing from that culture and not giving credit where credit is due. Thus, it is cultural appropriation.


In the magickal realm, this definition gets a little funky. Typically, we see cultural appropriation where a witch engages in a practice without the knowledge, know-how, and respect due to that culture. This is not to say that certain people cannot practice typically appropriated practice. It just means there are several things a witch must ask herself before she does.