Syncretism is the process in which a collection of beliefs and understands – once seperate and from different origins – begin to merge and share elements.
Modern occult is particularly marked for its syncretism although practitioners have always been interested and willing to learn from other teachings. The internet is a primary enabler of syncretism as it allows wisdom, teachings and theories to propagate instantly around the world and be easily accessible.
We can see syncretism when the same person uses both tarot or a native American medicine wheel or when Tibetan and Kabbalistic divintion arts are used side by side.
In Pure Spirit
What are your thoughts on syncretism? Is it helpful or a corruption of ways?
“First they came to take our land and water, then our fish and game. . .Now they want our religions as well. All of a sudden, we have a lot of unscrupulous idiots running around saying they’re medicine people. And they’ll sell you a sweat lodge ceremony for fifty bucks. It’s not only wrong, its obscene. Indians don’t sell their spirituality to anybody, for any price. This is just another in a very long series of thefts from Indian people and, in some ways, this is the worst one yet.”
Janet McCloud, Tulalip. Source: Z Magazine, Dec.’90
“Our ceremonies are not to be taken lightly, or without much consideration. When you want to partake in our Sundance, or if you want to seek a vision, please think of the Lakota people who died while practicing and preserving these traditions. Our lifestye is not a hobby, and it is not something that you do in your spare time.”
Dawson Her Many Horses, Oglala Sioux
To me, Syncretism is a symptom, of those who take genuine, deep, spiritual practice, and turn it into a part time hobby. Who take it, yes.. steal it.. from the culture it arose in, and sell it casually to the new age tourists.
It doesn’t matter whether these traditions are Native American, or Tibetan Buddhism.. once you take little bits and pieces out of a tradition and divorce it from its spiritual and cultural origins, you’re taking advantage of your cultural, social and economic power to take something of real value away from the culture that originated.
Insightful comments and two powerful quotes. Thanks, I think you’ve added greatly to the quality of this article.