Another Perspective on Cultural Approbation …

Dear Sisters,

I began writing this with caveats and justifications; with a whisper in my ear of ‘privileged white woman’… Yet these divisive ways that serve neither me nor you are exactly what I wish to speak to. In my heart they are as Ghandi said ‘an eye for an eye (which) is making the whole world blind’.

So I simply offer some of my thoughts on this issue as a woman speaking to other women.

From what I have read to date, many women speak to this issue from the perspective of their biological lineage this life. This, however, is not the discussion I wish to contribute to. Rather, I wish to speak to a global perspective and one from multiple lives.

I know I am not alone when I say that I feel more attuned with my ‘spirit family’ than my ‘blood family’ while acknowledging that it is perfect that I was born into this family at this time to learn what I need to learn. I also accept that this life I can dive ever deeper into the ancestry of this body and drink deeply from that well of knowledge. Yet even if I felt absolute alignment with my genetic ancestry this life, I believe I would still be flagging this issue. For I do not believe that we follow the same lineage over lives but rather move around in order to fulfill particular karmic debts and experience life in different cultures: some of these we will be deeply attuned with and others less so.

Before I continue on the deeper issue of ‘appropriating a cultural practice’, I would like to speak for a moment as to the power of words. I feel it is important to acknowledge the fact that many of the words considered controversial have been anglicised and obviously carry an entirely different energetic to the source words. These energetics are powerful, just as are the intention of the people using the words. In general I’ve always felt that if someone goes out and begins teaching something they’ve not yet deeply embodied or teaches it in a disrespectful way, it will simply draw that energy to them as a means for them to learn the lessons they need to learn.

That aside, let’s move to the deeper issue and why I believe division arises  when we start a discussion on cultural ownership around particular words and practices. While I acknowledge the immense suffering and hold profound respect for indigenous cultures, I do not believe that this is a time in the world for policing the ownership of what belongs to one culture vs. another. Hugely provocative to say I know! Yet I believe that right now the discussion around cultural approbation is providing unconscious permission to actively seek out division. We will not survive in these perilous times if we feed division.

I deeply resonate with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez words and agree whole-heartedly that the most important thing we must do right now in the world is actively seek out bridges. As you would know if you are reading this post, I am in the process of receiving and bringing through the pan-cultural project of the Amazonian Arts.  Here, when I draw on terms such as ‘Medicine Bundle’ I am doing so in their archetypal capacity: i.e. as concepts that live within the collective unconscious, gifted to us by our earliest human ancestors and belonging to us all. I have also fleshed these concepts out from all that has bubbled up from my own bones from previous lives; all that I have re-membered.

It is my deepest belief that creating and sharing stories that act as bridges between people and cultures is the only way we are going to avert disaster and facilitate the Great Turning[1], which is a wholesome way ahead together.

In love of the sisterhood.

Akhalita Makoto



[1] This term was first coined by Depth Ecologist, Joanna Macy.

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