Cultural Appropriation & Saying F*ck Imposter Syndrome

Written By Dana Childs
Dana has been described as “non-definable” due to her immense gifts. Her work has been sought out and praised by actress and Goop founder, Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as a host of famed actresses, Grammy award winners, dancers, and talk show hosts. LEARN MORE

Does it scare you and excite you all at once? Then you’re on the right track.

Many of you know that I’ve spent several years studying with a Native American shaman. She teaches a variety of ceremonies and healing techniques from cultures such as the Andean to Egyptian, to her own as well as neighboring Native traditions.

The very essence of her being is a HEALER. And it doesn’t matter from which culture the ceremony or technique is originating.

Last year she taught me two native healing ceremonies, a bunny blessing, and a feather blessing. I fell in love with them instantly. The gentleness, the power, the ability of the tools to carry the energy in exactly the way needed.

To demonstrate I understood the blessing technique and the energy behind it, she asked me to perform both on her. During, she had several physical resets and a deep healing in her leg which had been bothering her for days.

When I was leaving, she said, “Do this. You’re meant to do this.”
I hesitated.
“What?” she questioned.
“Who am I to offer these Native ceremonies? I know that I have Native American blood in me, but I can’t fully trace the origins. I am a white girl. Who am I to be offering these in today’s world?”
She took a deep breath.
“These teachings, these practices, they’re dying out. The elders are recruiting people who are interested to learn them, use them, and pass them down. Who are you to deprive people of this type of healing? You are a healer. This is who you are. Offer what you are and what you know.”

I was hesitant. I offered the ceremonies to a very small handful of people, and then I locked it back up. When I would perform the healing, I could feel a powerful rise in energy, a resonance of truth and connection through my whole body. Yet, when I spoke of it to others, I would swim in the shame of imposter syndrome, fearing I was offending someone and worried it wasn’t my birthright.

The Fear of Not Being Liked

I fear offending people, not being liked, and not being accepted. A therapist, when I was working for the bank, told me that the biggest thing in my way was desiring to be liked by everyone. “Take for example your new boss,” she said, “he’s rude to you, and he shuts down everything you try to do when you take initiative.” This was true. “What will happen if you stop trying to get him to like you, and just do your job?” she asked me.

So here I am, fifteen years later, asking myself the same question. What happens if I stop trying to win people over and just start doing what I’m here to do—to help heal, to open, to awaken? What if I just show up fully in my power and let people feel whatever they want to feel about me? What if I know that what they feel about me is only ever a reflection of them, their mindset, and their experience?

The very thought of it makes me tremble inside.

But then I look at the gender movement, this fight for people to be accepted as they see themselves, this freedom that’s rising that allows us to express ourselves in a way that aligns with who we are. And I think—how is this different? How is it the same?

Am I allowed to identify as a healer and then gather and perform the blessings and ceremonies that light me up, that ring as aligned in my being, that pour naturally from me, no matter where they originated? If I am true to the teachings, to myself, and I do this all with honor and respect for the culture and tradition, is this ok?

And the truth is it only has to be ok with me. It has to align with my ethics, my sense of self, and my Spirit.
And it does.

I Did The Scary Thing & Wow Did The Universe Impress Me

So in December and January of this past year, I offered my first public indigenous teaching—an Andean fire ceremony performed at Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina in Hawaii. I was nervous but ready. I had one attendee.

As she sat before me, she said, “I am so excited to be doing this. I’m from the Andes and have been in Hawaii for several years. It wasn’t until I was here that I started opening my healer abilities. I am so excited to learn something from my own culture.”

That ceremony was powerful and tender. A healing for us both. A bringing to her traditions from her native culture. An unmistakable omen from the Universe that continuing to learn and offer these native ceremonies is right for me.

I have yet to offer the bunny and feather blessings publicly. But trust me, you all will be the first to know when I do.

Ask Yourself This

In the meantime, I want to leave you with this question—what are you fearing to present to the world? What makes you feel like an imposter? What is something you hold so sacred to yourself that you fear being rejected or ridiculed for it?

There is so much power in owning that “thing.” Because anything that makes you tremble at the same time it lights up your soul like a comet hurtling through the Universe, is exactly the light the world is seeking. We need you. We need everything you are. Even if you’re scared.

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