Understanding the concept of cultural appropriation can be difficult to navigate. In its most basic form, cultural appropriation is adopting aspects of a culture that is not your own. Appropriation becomes more deeply troubling when members of a dominant culture take on aspects of a culture of people who they have historically oppressed. But, where are the lines? Are there any? Is it possible to respectfully appreciate and utilize certain components of Indigenous culture?
We often hear the phrase “cultural appropriation” in reference to clothing, costumes, and accessories. What about spiritual practices and rituals used for prayer? We often get asked questions like, “Can I use sacred medicines if I'm not indigenous?” or “Is it appropriating culture to use sage when I’m non-native?”
There’s no one answer and absolutely everyone you ask is going to have a different opinion on this subject, but we’d like to share what we think.
Smudging and Sacred Medicines
Medicine wheel teaching specifically states that the four nations of man on Mother Earth are all equal and in balance; the creator does not discriminate and celebrates the world’s diversity. As such, we believe that all people should enjoy the benefits of the spiritual teaching that defines Indigenous culture and makes the use of sacred medicines so powerful.
Smudging and sacred medicines can have a dramatic impact on health, spiritual wellness, and mental fortitude. We personally love to share these benefits with those who seek to listen carefully and learn consciously.
As long as you’re respectful, we firmly believe that smudging and use of other sacred medicines is perfectly acceptable for those who do not come from Indigenous culture.
Learn the benefits of smudging and feel confident about using it by downloading our smudging guide, where we will walk you through the step-by-step process.
Culture Should be Shared… Respectfully
The teachings of our elders tell us that culture is meant to be shared and celebrated. However, as a non-native individual, it is your responsibility to be respectful, acknowledge the origin of the culture, and understand its importance.
It is possible to practice and appreciate indigenous cultural and spiritual practices without disrespecting them. More importantly, it is possible to appreciate Indigenous culture without perpetuating harmful stereotypes or prejudices. Do your research, be mindful, and strive to celebrate Indigenous people and their traditions in a way that is culturally conscious.