Satanic Appropriation:

We should start the discussion with some definitions and basic information on what appropiation is and what it is not. Culture refers to the traditions, customs, beliefs, and practices of any given ethnic, racial, or religious group. Key elements of culture include:

  • language
  • art, music, and literature
  • clothing
  • social norms, customs, and values
  • history and government
  • religion and holidays

To appropriate, in basic terms, means to take without permission. Cultural appropriation is then the use of a minority culture’s religious, artistic, or other symbolism or practices by the majority culture in a way that divorces it from the original cultural context and occurs without the consent of members of the minority group. Often, what makes it appropriation rather than appreciation is the use of these symbols to promote a commercial or political agenda, in a way that benefits the majority group.

Appropriation also tends to involve some misuse of cultural elements. In other words, people who appropriate generally pick and choose only the elements they consider appealing and ignore the rest, along with any important cultural context behind those elements. 

For some people, this idea might involve doing some potentially uncomfortable exploration. Acknowledging all elements of a minority culture extends to recognizing how christian supremacy has played a part in dismantling and oppressing other cultures. To cherry pick your beliefs continues the dismanteling of religions. Religious communities can grow and change over time but there are base common factors that should not be erased. For example when people are uncomfortable with the symbol specifically of a centeral character like Satan.

Cultural appropriation causes harm because it contributes to ongoing oppression and exploitation of other cultures. By contributing to misleading and harmful stereotypes through cherry picking, it prevents opportunities for true understanding and cultural exchange. People who appropriate cultural elements don’t recognize or honor the true meaning or purpose of those elements. They also fail to give credit where credit is due.

Red flags that may warrant introspection:

  • Insist it’s fine because you have a friend from that culture or religious group.
  • Challenge them because “they can’t speak for every member of their group”.
  • Explain you didn’t mean to cause any harm or tell them they’re being too sensitive.
  • Use a sacred item symbol in a flippant way
  • Are you ignoring the cultural significance of something in favor of following a trend?
  • If a person of the original culture were to do what you are doing, would they be viewed as “cool” or could they possibly face discrimination?
  • Are there any stereotypes involved in what you are doing?

When a person from a specific culture explains that your actions are harmful, they’re harmful. Full stop. The only good option is to listen, learn, and change your behavior.

In this sense, appropriation involves a lack of understanding of or appreciation for the historical context that influences what is being taken. Taking a sacred act from a historically marginalized culture and producing it as part of a political stunt is one example. 

It is not my place—or anyone’s for that matter—to question others beliefs. I just wish that there was more consideration when it comes to religious acts and symbols. Wearing or using these symbols and acts as fashion or to make a political point is essentially cherrypicking.

At its most basic definition “Satanism is the religious veneration of the symbol of Satan.” (1) If this is not a part of your definition theistic or non theistic I have a hard time understanding how you are a Satanist. Regardless, whether you practice a religion or are an ally, respect is always necessary to foster a harmonious community.

Cultural appropriation can be most easily recognized by asking this question of the non-dominant group: Does the use of this element of your culture in this way bother you?

Their answer is the only one that matters.

Bettie.

References:

1- A Simple Definition of Satanism Stephen Bradford Long

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