There is a tendency to do things half way, or with the flavor of the person's original life and belief system in it. Then it is a problem. When you stay in your home and worship Barbie dolls dressed in Burkas, that is OK, but when you then take that out into the world and call yourself a follower of a belief system that doesn't know Barbie from a hole in the wall, you are creating a huge issue.
Native American newspapers (yes they DO have them), are full of natives screaming about people playing Indian. This stems mostly from the James Ray sweat lodge horror. They are very clear that no white man belongs running a sweat lodge. I hear them loud and clear.They feel that an integral part of their spiritual lives has been taken and desecrated by others.
Let's look at it this way. I have been to a Bar Mitzvah, know very well what it is all about, can sing the prayers, but should I perform one? Of course not, that is up to a trained and authorized (ordained) Rabbi.I can WANT to be (fill in the blank), but that doesn't mean I can ever be that "personage", I can't.
This doesn't just happen in the Native culture, although that seems to be the popular one right now. When I was a kid it wasn't cool to be an Indian, not at all. Now all of a sudden, everyone wants to be one...well not everywhere. I didn't see this on the east coast or in the desert southwest, most likely because there are so many real Natives that no one would dare play at being one. James ray brought his nonsense from California, and made a horrible mess of things.
The fact remains, if you want to take on another culture, learn from the people OF THAT CULTURE, and learn your lesson WELL. Make sure that you carefully follow not only the words and deeds, but (and now here is the hard part), the thinking and belief behind it, otherwise you are just "playing". If you do it in a few months, you aren't doing it right, it takes years to take on another mind set and know all about any other belief system.
There is not a problem following another group or honoring it, but playing at it is abhorrent to the culture. It is not a compliment , it is an insult. It isn't what is in your Ego or "wants" are, it is what is in your heart. The Universe can see very clearly into your heart.
One person who wrote in said that they went to a pipe ceremony where the people with the pipes didn't sing a pipe loading song. They didn't know it.
They should know the song if they have a pipe, or they shouldn't have one at all. This person had heard the song, and had been to authentic ceremonies where the song is sung, and knew something was amiss. There are different Nations with different ways, but this was a following that should have included a pipe loading song.
That isn't honoring the Native way, that is "half assing" it and insulting it. It is being lazy and egotistical to say "I have a pipe", not honoring the native ways and putting the right energy into the ceremony. There is way too much ego in the spiritual community lately. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. They don't want to put in the years of work or study, they just want to be part of something. Some don't even know they are being half taught , or under educated.
Taking on any other culture's ways , when done fully and correctly is an honor. It shows dedication and respect. Doing it half way shows disrespect. No matter what you take on, do it for the right reasons, and do it the right way. There are many authentic people out there willing to teach.
DO it the right way, and do the right things for the right reasons.
For those that wrote in, yes you are entirely correct, these situations you described to me are clearly people that you don't want to be around. Go for quality. Go for authenticity, I am so happy that you recognized the difference!!
Quality over quantity.
Do the right things for the right reasons.
If you are going to do it half way, don't do it at all.
(C)2011 Dr R M Reiter Wolf. May not be used , copied or reproduced without prior written permission.