Why Not Just Study Another European Religion?

Cultural Appropriation and the Search for an Authentic Spiritual Path

As many well-meaning people of European descent have been searching for an authentic spiritual path, they have often found themselves drawn to the indigenous religions of peoples their cultural forebears had killed and enslaved over centuries in the Americas (particularly the USA and Argentina) and in New Zealand and Australia. While there are some authentic searchers who have endured a great deal to delve deeply into those minority cultures, and have been accepted by authentic teachers in those studies, we are also seeing a lot of “dabbling” in indigenous religions, misappropriation of religious symbols and rituals, and an offensive perversion of those religious paths.

As a result of the abuses of “plastic shamans” and those seeking to exploit native peoples, the call of some indigenous-rights advocates has been “get your own religion, and stop stealing ours!” Not all authentic spiritual seekers are engaging in cultural theft, but there is a valid point to be made– why can’t we search out the roots of our own indigenous spiritual path? Of course, the problem is finding such a thing as an “indigenous European religion”.

A “True” European Religion?

Basically, we don’t believe that a true “Native European” religion exists today. While we are all familiar with the rise of Christianity as the dominant European religion over the last 1500 years or so, we don’t realize just how much the previous religions of Europe were imported by various invading tribes over the 2000 years prior to that. From about 2500 BCE, wave after wave of Indo-European tribes migrated into Europe, sometimes peacefully, but often violently, bringing with them their sky god pantheons and patriarchal culture. This includes the Greeks, Romans, Scandinavians, Germans, Celts– all of them are, to some extent, the cultural and spiritual descendants of invaders from the Pontic region between the Black and Caspian Seas. Additionally, many of them were further influenced by Middle-Eastern (Persian, Phoenician) or North African (Egyptian, Carthaginian) religions.

Some areas of Europe were only lightly affected by these invasions. Patriarchy never got a terribly firm grip over the British Isles, for instance, until well after the Roman occupation of lowland Britain. Boudicca, as an example, was a Celtic Warrior-Queen who nearly kicked the Romans out of London, after they disenfranchised women of their land-ownership rights. Even today, Ireland, Wales, and highland Scotland all retain a certain degree of women’s rights, and a respect for strong feminine figures.

While we honor and acknowledge the importance of those pockets of Native European culture which survive to this day, it is difficult to separate out the Indo-European patriarchy in those traditions, which have blended them together for centuries. These cultures became stratified into social classes and increasingly patriarchal. We prefer to look to a time prior to the arrival of the patriarchal gods of the Indo-European warrior-god-kings, to the more peaceful, goddess-centered worship of Old Europe.

Our hope in doing so is to help “heal the soul of the White Man”. It is White Europeans who have dealt the greatest damage to the people of planet Earth and to the Earth herself over the last thousand years. The Crusades, the conquering of the Americas, the colonization of much of Africa, Central Asia, and Pacifica has led to terrible abuses which we are still perpetrating and suffering from today. Most of the conflicts in the Middle-East today, for example, can be traced back to the colonial mixing of tribes conducted by the British as they controlled those regions, as well as the granting of the area of Palestine to the Jews after World War II by the United Nations.

Today, it is the White American lifestyle which consumes 4 Earths’ worth of resources (if every person on Earth were to live the same lifestyle), and Americans who are exporting the “greed is good” economic imperialism over the globe. It is we who need to find our soul again, and learn to live in peace and moderation. We can’t do it by becoming “Indians” or “Aborigines” or “Maori”. We need to find an indigenous spirituality that is authentically European, and deeply respectful of women and the Earth; and strongly supportive of equality and communal egalitarianism.

What About {fill in the blank} Religion?

Some people will read this, thinking– Oh, but I have been studying an authentic European religion! It’s called– “Celtic”, “Germanic”, “Saxon”, “Welsh”, “Czech Paganism”… take your pick of any of a number of pre-Christian European paths, all the way back to the Etruscan. Unfortunately, none of these paths are untainted by patriarchal cultural paradigms, and represent ideas imported by Indo-European invaders. They have the hallmark characteristics of celebrating masculine warrior society, with a “big man” leader and social stratification. This is not to say that it is bad or wrong to study or practice these religious paths, and yes, they are practiced by people with native European ancestry, but they are highly influenced by foreign cultural memes that were introduced during the Bronze and Iron Ages.

We feel it is important to revive the egalitarian, female-led societies of “stone age” Old Europe if we are to find a peaceful coexistence with the Earth and among the peoples of the Earth.

Leave a Reply