I have talked in the past about the ridiculousness that is the idea of “cultural appropriation”. In that vein, there was this on Social Media:
This Lauren Hunchar person appears to think that because certain “people of color” use the term “Spirit Animal” that somehow blocks others, particularly white people, from having a concept which can be described using the same term.
This is absolutely ridiculous.
Now, this Hunchar person (I would like to say “Ms. Hunchar, but I would never dream of assuming this person’s gender–this person would probably be most offended were I to do so) may be thinking that “white” is synonymous with “of Judeo-Christian belief” and, certainly, one could argue that Judeo-Christian belief is not a place where you’d find much room for “spirit animals”. Or maybe not. After all, the Holy Ghost is reported to have descended on Jesus in the sign of a dove. Jesus himself is often described as “the Lamb of God”. One might argue that these representations could be described as deity presenting as a “spirit animal” to lead people to salvation.
But leaving that aside, the Judeo-Christian religions are far from the only traditions found in the history of “white” people. And a small but growing minority of people are turning in many ways to the folk religion of their ancestors.
My own ancestry is Germanic on my father’s side and Irish/Celtic on my mother’s. Now, much of the original Germanic belief (as practiced by the tribes in what would become modern Germany) is long lost, but the other branch of that belief, that practiced in the Nordic countries, had a bit more survive to be recorded and reach us to the modern day.
One of the beliefs among the Germanic/Nordic people is the Fylgjur. These were spirits that accompanied a person in connection to their fate or fortune. Oft times these Filgjur would appear in the form of animals that were seen at the birth of a child, or which would eat the afterbirth. Sagas report mice, dogs, foxes, cats, birds of prey, or carrion eaters as these fylgjur. Other sagas report fylgjur that reflect the character of the person.
Spirits, that take the form of animals and that are connected to an individual. Spirit animals.
That’s the Germanic side, but what about the Celtic?
Well, in Celtic belief the gods and godesses frequently had animal forms or at least animal associations. As one example, the Morrigan was associated with crows, ravens, wolves, and horses. Animals were often seen as guides, providing omens, sent by the gods/spirits. So, once again, spirit animals.
As you can see, there is a tradition of spirit animals on both sides of my ancestry. I have as much “right” to claim the term “Spirit Animal” as any Person of Color. Just because they have that concept in their culture does not mean they can deny the concept to others which have it as well.
So I will thank you, Hunchar person, not to deny me my cultural heritage.