A mug of ceremonial cacao - an appropriated spiritual practice?

Mama Cacao - Decolonising spiritual practice

“Hey Mama Cacao,” I whisper. “Do you have a message for me - what do I need to know?”

She told me my instinct was right - to start to decolonise my spiritual practices.

"This," she told me, "is not for you, not now. You will never be made unwelcome, but your impulse is correct. This is your sign. Decolonise your spiritual practices. (Also, write about it.)"

I had never felt such a connection with her before. But when I came with a clear question, she gave me this very clear answer.

Decolonising our spiritual practices

Indulge me while I state the obvious: white people have caused such harm to humanity, to animal and plant life, and to the physical fabric of our precious home planet. I suggest, as a disproportionately tiny mark of respect for our fellow journeyers, that we set aside the practices, crafts and tools that have been plundered, appropriated, and consumed.

Cultural appropriation

My own ancestry is riddled with racism, misogyny, and every kind of bullying small-mindedness. They dwell in me, smiling out of faded photos as I, still bleary with sleep, light a candle to remember the dead. 

Yet they manifested me. I am inspired by the sharing of culture, and question how we (white people) cherry pick the myths and traditions we enjoy, and dispose of the rest.

“Appropriation”, after all, hardly paints a picture of what went down.

What can we do?

If we’re using something given by the ancestors of a particular culture, and benefitting from it, shouldn’t we also do something for the descendants of that wisdom? Mustn’t we be deeply and practically invested in their wellbeing, now and in the future?

Loved ones, we cannot hope to heal generational trauma with spiritual traditions, if we’re blind to the generational trauma caused by our ancestors towards black people and other people of colour, and their spiritual traditions. Our pain cannot be transmuted by a practice that is itself steeped in the pain of stolen knowledge. We must work on decolonising our spiritual practices.

With love and magic to you and yours,

Anna


A photo of Anna, she is against a white wall wearing a black dress, looking down towards the ground. Her face is mostly obscured by her hair.

Love Letter

As soon as I have published here I will compose a love letter. This relationship has struggled greatly over the years but after much work and willingness to change, it is now very secure and nurturing.

With my fountain pen, on heavy paper, I shall compose deep compliments and excavate my most tender feelings.

I will re-state my utter commitment to uncondintional, everlasting love. I expect I shall embarrass myself a little bit with my earnest phrasing.

Sometimes, the truth is bigger than words. I know I will come up against the limits of language.

As soon as I have published here I will compose a love letter to myself.

It’s time I put it on paper.


A Meditation for Anxiety

I’ve recorded a guided meditation for you because this practice is not widely known and helps me tremendously on days when I struggle under the weight of anxiety.

Thankfully, those days are relatively few and far between; but it was not long ago that the ‘ok’ days were rare as hens’ teeth.

The meditation is based on the Buddhist tradition of Tonglen, wherein we reverse our ego’s sweet but ultimately absurd insistence on going to any lengths to resist and resent suffering. Instead in Tonglen we open ourselves to pain and experience its transmutation.

The purpose is to more deeply awaken our compassion but also to recognise the very important point that ‘our’ pain is not, in fact, ours. It is ‘the’ pain, and widely or even universally experienced.

With much practice, I find I can now perform a few Tonglen breaths while walking through town, or preparing a meal, and feel an expansion of love and compassion that serves me, and by extension all of humanity, greatly.

It is my sincere wish that you find this recording helpful and might try it soon or bookmark it as part of your toolkit for when things seem impossible.

Let me know how you find it.