2020 Year-End Astrology: A Once in 40 Lifetimes Event

2020 Year-End Astrology: A Once in 40 Lifetimes Event

2020 Year-End Astrology: A Once in 40 Lifetimes Event

I‘ve been posting fairly regularly about the astrology of 2020 in my Facebook group and on Instagram this year. We’ve been under some intense skies all year long, starting with a conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn on January 12th that brought about a global pandemic and subsequent economic failure, revealing the cracks in our societal infrastructure everywhere from unemployment to healthcare to our food supply. These two slow moving planets have been dancing together in this pattern all year.

Jupiter swooped into the party beginning in March, moving into close conjunction with Pluto three times this year, each time setting off a new wave of positive cases. This Saturn-Pluto-Jupiter stellium is sticking around for the rest of 2020 and it’s a once-in-4,000-year event. These three planets have not been together in Capricorn since times so ancient, the Egyptians were the world power.

In late May, Saturn stuck a toe into Aquarius, sparking a tidal wave of social justice outcries just before retrograde season came upon us this summer to make sure to back the car over us a couple more times just to emphasize the point.

As we headed into the fall, we experienced an intense Mercury retrograde in Scorpio and Mars retrograde in Aries, fueling paranoia, anger, and conspiracy around the U.S. election. Mercury stationed direct on election day and Mars just ten days later, alleviating a whole lot of collective angst and pulling us back from the point of boiling over, but the universe had something bigger in store…

At the beginning of November, Jupiter began to catch up to Saturn for a once-in-every-200 years conjunction–STILL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF OUR ONCE-IN-EVERY-4,000-YEARS STELLIUM– which will culminate in the first degree of Aquarius on our Winter Solstice, December 21st…and did I mention there’s a full moon eclipse in Gemini during this period as well??? Holy shit that’s an intense sky.

But What Does it MEAN?

This period of time between the beginning of November and late January will transformational in ways we have not seen on this planet in literally ages. Pluto, Jupiter, and Saturn in Capricorn have laid waste to life as we know it in 2020. The things that could not stand the tests of time have been rent asunder. Imagine emerging from hiding after a category 5 hurricane and surveying the damage (yet another apt analogy for 2020, which saw a record Atlantic hurricane season). Anything not left standing was too weak to survive and must be rebuilt, and so we must rebuild our society. But this time, it will be built on a more solid foundation: one that serves everyone, and not just the few at the top.

The full moon eclipse on November 30th is a final energetic purge before Saturn and Jupiter make an intense conjunction at one degree Aquarius on December 21st. For the last 200 years until now, the two planets have been meeting in earth signs. This next conjunction kicks off a new cycle taking place in air signs. To top it off, this conjunction is also the closest these two planes have been in 400 years (this just means there’s a more exacting force between them than usual).

Given that these are slower moving, outer planets, they have a larger effect on global themes, and with them now moving into air signs, specifically Aquarius for the next 20 years, we can start to get a good idea of what those themes are.

“Thus 2020 is at the end of a two-hundred-year era of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in earth signs. While the earth element signifies focus on material security and consolidation of resources that is resistant to change, the era of air will bring disruption to established orders and dramatic changes in collective ideas and the way we communicate. Vitally, not only will Jupiter and Saturn be uniting in Aquarius, they will also be forming a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Taurus. At this pivotal moment in our journey, the lightning bolts of Jupiter and Uranus will not only bring down old societal structures but will also impel us to release old personal dreams and drama we have been attached to. There will be new challenges and unknown potential arising as we begin a new era of Jupiter and Saturn that we will need to make space for in our lives. During 2020 ask yourself what you need to leave behind and what you truly desire to carry forward.” – Jupiter Conjunct Saturn in Aquarius

Pluto doesn’t kick over into Aquarius until 2024. Saturn heading in for the next two years is laying the groundwork, and this conjunction with Jupiter on the date of the winter solstice is the kickoff party. If you look at the symbolic significance of the winter solstice, it marks the longest night, death, rebirth, and renewal into a new solar year as light begins to become the prevailing force over darkness. Consider it an annual dark night of the soul.

We will look back at what happens between now and the end of January of 2021 as the beginning of a turning point into a new era, on a small scale for the next 20 years, on a larger scale for the next 200, and an even larger scale for the next 4,000. The New Paradigm is here, and we’re about to build it. I plan to write much more in-depth about what that’s going to look like in the real world sometime in the next week, so stay tuned.

In the meantime…

A Message From My Meditation

I had a very informative meditation a few days ago that I shared in the Facebook group and thought I’d share here as well, because it’s very much tied to the energies of 2020:

Earth is in the process of an energetic division right now. Lower energies are splitting off to their own path for further evolution, and higher energies will continue on its own track.
There’s a lot of energy workers incarnate right now with the expressed purpose of anchoring in higher frequencies, and they’re actually strategically located across the planet, creating a sort of living energy grid and that’s helping with the transition at this time.

These are incredibly HUMBLE people that have kept their egos in check. That was emphasized… they wanted souls that would not get sucked into ego traps like being a spiritual influencer, or otherwise having this sort of, “I have spiritual knowledge that you don’t have” kind of mentality, because the people who got heavily caught in the ego trap are taking the lower vibe rout. There’s no judgement behind that at all, it’s viewed from a very neutral perspective, like an energetic choice or preference. So the people we’re talking about here won’t be the type of people to go around proclaiming it, or using spiritual knowledge as a way to puff up their ego. They’re very humble, dedicated, grounded individuals who probably don’t even realize this is why they are here. The ones that run around claiming that they’re special are the ones that got stuck.

In my meditation, I saw this collective as being a “service-to-self” oriented group. People with too much unhealed trauma with no willingness to look at it, people who’ve been unable to cope with this year’s energies in a healthy way and fell into denial and delusion about the world around them, including conspiracy theories and hoaxes. I’m not saying all of them will be taking that path, just the ones with baseline energies that are too heavy to ascend with this higher track of evolution. Those who still have the capacity to awaken and heal won’t miss the boat.

Some of us view this as a time of severe struggle and we’re feeling a lot of anxiety and fear, but that’s only the appearance from the outside. Yes, there’s very heavy energies across earth right now which are being purged, and that’s what you’re feeling that makes you think this is a struggle and that it could potentially fail, but “It’s already done.” (that’s the phrase they used).

Many of us wonder how to save those who are caught up in those lower energies and the answer is you can’t. That’s the path they’ve chosen. Instead, focus on what you can do for yourself and those around you who are receptive to build your new world. There is no more truth to be revealed. It’s all out on the table, so there’s no need to uncover or tear down more. The dominoes have fallen and the collapse is on course. Now is a time for focusing on the future. Where do we go from here? What will we create? How should we go about doing that? Visualize. Brainstorm. Collaborate. Create.

Please keep in mind this is how things are at the 700,000 foot level view. The big themes. It’s not necessarily how it’s going to look down on the ground level where all of that heavy energy is stirred up, so try not to look at this as an invalidation of how you’re feeling right now, but rather, a reassurance than everything is going to be ok.

As several of the tarot readers I watch on YouTube always say, “Everything happens energetically before it’s manifested physically.” The energetic piece is “already done.” We’re just waiting for the dust to settle and the physical manifestation to trickle in.

That whole focusing on the future and what we want to build is the energy behind the upcoming Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius. In Tarot terms, we’re at an Ace level at this point, or the Fool. A sea of new potential. Tap into it and use it to your advantage. It will also give you a positive focus in the months ahead as the dust is settling.

Recognizing And Understanding Synchronicity

Recognizing And Understanding Synchronicity

Recognizing And Understanding Synchronicity

One thing we all look for on our spiritual path is signs. Signs help guide us, give us validation, and simply give us hints that there’s more to reality than meets the eye. We call those signs “synchronicities.”

In Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch, he introduces the concept that God is all around you and talking with you all the time, in ways you never really thought about: you need only pay attention.

What constitutes a synchronicity? It could really be anything. Once you begin paying attention, you’ll notice signs and synchronicities all around you. Some very big. Some very small, but they all have one thing in common–the feeling that comes with them. 

There’s an intuitive tug that can be felt when you recognize a synchronicity, typically in the heart or the brow, because it’s aligned with those chakras–you see it and you feel it.

A sure sign of synchronicity is repetition. When you see something or hear a song or phrase over and over, and the odds of that thing occurring that frequently are pretty low, and it catches your attention and makes you go, “Hmmm…,” you can safely assume that it was meant to do just that and you might be able to find meaning behind it.

Experiencing A Synchronicity vs. Reading Into a Synchronicity

Apophenia: is the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things, or see patterns in random data.

Synchronicity: the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

Upon first glance, these two things seem to be exactly the same, and by and large, people who are heavy into a modernist/materialist worldview believe they are. However, having experienced and observed the two in action, both within myself and others, for nearly 10 years, I’ve come to recognize them as having a fundamental difference.

Apophenia

Apophenia, I’ve noticed, is extremely common among people who are new to their spiritual path as well as people who are prone to what some would call “magical thinking.” In my observation, apophenia occurs when one is consciously or subconsciously looking for meaning where there is none.
Examples of apophenia that I’ve seen frequently over the years are:

  • Finding a feather on a beach laden with Sea Gulls and calling it a sign from spirit (when the odds of finding a feather on said beach is astronomical)
  • Searching for images in clouds (also known as pareidolia, which is a type of apophenia).
  • Insisting that perfectly common and replicable lens flares in photos are spirit orbs (I wrote an entire blog post on this here).
  • Many of the more far-fetched conspiracy theories actually require apophenia in order to make any sense of them.
  • Discussing something via Facebook messenger, then being served an ad for that thing, and assuming that is a sign from spirit rather than a social media algorithm at work.

Apophenia, it seems, is driven by a desire to find meaning.

Cloud Gazing

I used to see a lot of people posting pictures of clouds and asking, “Do you see (insert sign here)?” Effectively, they’re looking at the cloud and looking for a sign, and then finding the thing they’re looking for. That’s not synchronicity, because you’re looking for it. That’s pareidolia. Synchronicity occurs when you’re not actively looking for it.

Digital Syncs

You have to be careful when it comes to seeming synchroncities on digital properties like Facebook and Youtube and anything that has to do with online ads, because those platforms have algorithms that are specifically created to serve you content based on your online habits–what you’re talking about, what you’re posting about, what you’re searching for and even what you’re discussing in your private messages.

If you think something, but have never typed it in any of those places and it shows up as an ad–count it as a synch. But if you were just discussing it with your friend via a Facebook messenger and then you see an article served to you in your newsfeed on a similar topic, I wouldn’t read too much into it.

Synchroncity

Synchronicity, on the other hand, is the sort of odd coincidence that tends to smack you out of nowhere when you’re not looking, and it’s often accompanied by a feeling of incredulity and self-doubt: am I really seeing this? And then (at least in my experience) it keeps bombarding you in completely unrelated and impossible ways until you stop dismissing and fully acknowledge it.
A question that people often wonder when it comes to synchronicity is, “Am I making this up?” or “Is this just a coincidence?”

Synchronicity isn’t driven by a desire at all. It catches you off guard and gives you a small, eery glimpse into matrix.

A good general rule of thumb that I like to use to determine whether or not something is a synchronicity–aside from the intuitive tug–is whether or not it catches you off guard. If it catches you off guard, it’s most likely a sync. If you’re actively looking for it, it’s probably not.

You don’t find synchronicities, they find you. And that’s the big difference. All in all, follow your intuition. It’s your best guide.

Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

 

 

Speak your truth.

I hear this phrase thrown around a lot, usually in situations where someone is, just has, or is about to say something that sounds a little bit…crazy – whether it be an opinion or an experience.

Yes, it’s true, we should all be allowed to speak our truth. Freedom of speech, after all! But just like freedom of speech, speaking your truth does not mean that you are protected from the consequences. Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one. Experiences are filtered through your beliefs, which happen to be the foundation of your opinions.

You see, it’s your truth, not the truth. Your truth is just a version, an interpretation of the Truth, and it can be as close to the absolute Truth or as far away from the absolute Truth as your current place in your spiritual evolution allows you to understand. And that’s the truth ;).

But we should be able to be who we are and believe what we believe!

Yes, that’s true, too, so long as you take one thing into consideration:

You have to be prepared for the inevitable lesson that what you find to be an absolute truth today will eventually no longer be so at some point in the future.

That’s the nature of evolution. Things change. You find out new information and what you once thought was a solid experience suddenly is seen in a new light, and you realize that perhaps what you originally thought wasn’t quite the way it actually was.

The problem with “speak your truth” is that people can become attached to that experience, and dependent on that experience, and they incorporate that experience into part of their identity, and then later when they find new information that broadens their original view, it creates an internal crisis, and they fall apart. The hard lesson learned.

I find that the best way to handle such things is to find a healthy balance between belief and skepticism, remain detached from the experience itself and refrain from making any conclusions about intuitive information until such a time as you’ve gotten “all the facts” so to speak.

Simply hold that thing as a possibility that may be proven right – or wrong – at any point in the near future. File it away under the “curios information” folder and see what else accumulates as you go along.

Speaking your truth takes on a whole new meaning when you become a spiritual teacher. As any kind of digital influencer, people with platforms are community leaders. Having those platforms is a form of power and influence, and to quote Uncle Ben from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Once again, even as a spiritual leader, our truth is not always the Truth. If we present our truth as the Truth we then leave the territory of personal opinion into recommendation.

As a spiritual teacher and digital influencer, you have a greater responsibility than simply to yourself. You have a responsibility to your community. That responsibility comes with the ability to both heal and harm people with the ideas that you share–particularly during a global health emergency–because you’ve built a community of people who look to you as someone who has knowledge.

When we reach this point, we are living our lives in service to the collective. It’s no longer about us. And that’s the life we choose.

If we want to go back to a life of “I can say whatever I want and share my opinions without consequence,” then we need to step away from being a community leader.

What kind of truth am I talking about exactly? Here’s a real life example:

My attention was brought to an online “spiritual” women’s coach with a large audience on Facebook who made a post chastising women who experienced coerced rape as having porous boundaries and told them, “Regret isn’t rape.”

Anyone who is even remotely trauma-informed, has a background in psychology, or is simply educated about rape culture knows how much shame and guilt rape victims deal with. For one of them to then go online and see a person that they respect and and whose opinion they believe is “Truth” to effectively validate their worst fear–that what someone else did to them was their fault–is incredibly harmful, and extremely ignorant on behalf of this “coach” who has claimed that they are here to heal people.

Said coach is entitled to her opinion. I might even go so far as to say that this coach has likely experienced coerced rape at some point in her life and internalized her own shame and guilt around it, has convinced herself that it was her fault for not having better boundaries (newsflash: the only people who take advantage of people with bad boundaries are people who have no respect for boundaries. I.e. abusers) and is now projecting her own experience onto other women. Not to mention she is only holding the victim accountable and more or less absolving the abuser of any wrongdoing in the process.

But as a coach and a healer, she has a responsibility to her audience and her paying clients to educate herself about women’s issues, and to be responsible with what she says in that regard. Her careless victim shaming can lead someone into a shame spiral that ends in suicide.

No, as individuals, we aren’t directly responsible for another person’s thoughts or feelings or choices. But our actions and words do contribute to the climate that people live in which informs their thoughts about themselves, and as coaches, healers, influencers and the like, we hold a form of power over the people who look up to us as a role model and it is our duty to wield that power responsibly so that we, ourselves, do not become an abuser toward the people we are purporting to help.

Spiritual Materialism

Spiritual Materialism

Spiritual Materialism

Back when I was just coming into my spiritual path, about ten years ago now, the concept of materialism–that is, the valuing of material possessions, fame, and wealth above spirituality–was a very common topic discussed by spiritual teachers.

It was understood that greed and a sense of lack–not just materially, but spiritually: a feeling of being less-than–were at the root of the desire for wealth, power, and possessions, and it was understood that this desire was a driving force behind the imbalances on our planet. We were taught that true happiness does not come from material wealth–it comes from within. That the desire for material wealth is one that is based in ego, and when one does the work to tame their ego, the desire for material wealth subsides.

But over the course of the last ten years, as spirituality has become more mainstream and more and more people discover things like The Secret and Abraham Hicks (Law of Attraction), spirituality and “the work” has become more about changing your mindset to manifest whatever you desire rather than questioning those desires, and treating the universe as though it were some sort of genie in a bottle that exists to grant your wishes. 

“Do the inner work and you can have whatever you want!” A new age prosperity gospel. The marriage of capitalism and faux spirituality.

It’s also resulted in swaths of spiritual people believing they can positive-think their way out of addressing systemic inequality like poverty, racism, and patriarchy. You know. Spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity.

I don’t talk about manifesting much because there’s no point in manifesting anything if you haven’t done the work. You’ll manifest a bunch of shit and suddenly realize you’re still a miserable human being. And anyway, one who is manifesting from a place of “less than” will always feel “less than” regardless of what they manage to obtain, and one who has done the work and no longer feels less than will not desire the same things they once did, because they know those things do not bring happiness.

I’m not saying that in order to be spiritual one must take a poverty vow. I’m saying spirituality brings one into true balance with the world around them through the recognition that we are all connected and a part of a whole, only requiring that which meets their actual needs to live a humble and comfortable life, recognizing their place within the community, and above all else, living a life where purpose matters more than success.

These “manifesting” teachers don’t teach you to question your desires or to address their root causes. And if they’re not teaching you self-inquiry, they’re not teaching you self awareness. They’re just teaching you how to delude yourself into believing your ego is right.

Xo, 

 

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Are You Awake or Just Woke?

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

There’s a new documentary making the rounds now about social media’s effects on society. I also caught the follow-up of Plandemic which was trying to paint a similar picture (that Google is run by evil people who want to brainwash you into believing whatever they choose to show you). The idea is becoming very popular, so I wanted to talk about it for a minute and pose a couple of philosophical questions.

The Social Dilemma

Everyone reading this probably believes in the concept of the Law of Attraction: that what you believe in/think about, you manifest. In other words, whatever you are, you get more of, until you change what you are.

This is not entirely different from how social media and Google algorithms work. Whatever you click on, you get more of. Until you change what you click on. I’ve worked in some form of digital marketing pretty much since Twitter was invented (2007 or so) and as part of my job, I’ve had to understand the how the algorithms work and keep up with how they’ve changed-both for the delivery of ads and organic growth of business pages on Facebook, and for the delivery of ads and organic rankings of websites on Google.

I’ve known for years that whatever I click on (and especially whatever I share), I’m going to get more of, so I only click on the things that I want to see more of. That’s why my instagram feed is full of A-frame houses in Norway, cat and bird videos, and the occasional inspirational quote. I specifically do not click on all of the Tik Tok videos of teen girls with giggly boobs doing dances in bikinis because I DON’T want more of that (and yet they keep making them… lordt).

I also know that some influencer or coach somewhere is probably going to end up in my feed at some point because they’ve created an ad that targets people with interests similar to that of their target audience. And sometimes I appreciate that because it introduces me to new people. But most of the time I roll my eyes because those people are hypocrites in some form or fashion.

It’s not a secret or a conspiracy that Facebook, or Twitter, or any other technology platform has tried to hide from anyone. There are people who literally make their living by writing article after article about how these platforms work and teaching small business owners how to use them. If you truly want to understand how it works, you don’t need to watch a spooky conspiracy “documentary” (I use that word loosely because Plandemic is not a documentary, its propaganda, which is another word I do not use loosely. It literally meets the definition of propaganda).

Just like with the Law of Attraction, my social media feed and Google searches show me the things I’ve already been thinking about, searching for, and clicking on. In other words, they mirror back to me my version of reality, just like the law of attraction does.

At what point do we stop blaming things outside of ourselves–evil cabals of cannibal celebrities, the deep state, or Google’s algorithm–for the consequences of our own actions (or inactions)?

At what point do we start making active and logical decisions about the information we choose take in?

People want to say “SOCIAL MEDIA IS CONDITIONING YOU TO THINK THIS WAY!” But the reality is that it isn’t. They are allowing themselves to be conditioned by the information they are choosing to engage with–by not engaging in a critical thinking process.

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

In spirituality, we have this concept of living consciously and being “awake” verses living your life asleep. One of, if not the most common misconceptions I see the “wake up sheeple” crowd make is believing that being awake means that you are “woke” to the ills of the world. That’s not what being awake means at all. Not even close. It also doesn’t (only) mean that you are aware that there is more to the universe than what is physically in front of it. It’s deeper than all of these things.

Being awake means living your life with conscious intention.

It means becoming aware of your subconscious patterns and habits, and learning to recognize when you are slipping into them. It means recognizing when your emotional reactions are driving your behavior. It means recognizing when your shadow-self is taking over. Only when you are awake and aware of your own shadow can you see the world objectively enough to be truly aware of what’s happening around you.

Humans really like to blame anybody and anything other than themselves for how they think–and sure, when we’re kids, we are conditioned by our parents’ beliefs and our society and culture because we don’t have any other point of reference. It’s only when we grow older, get a little more experience under our belts, and see more of the world that we (hopefully) begin the process of expansion.

People who have truly done their inner-work to deprogram themselves and heal their trauma, who have learned the principles of non-attachment, who know their spiritual values, and use those as a cornerstone to anchor the kind of reality they choose to create will actively employ those things as measures against what they will perceive as Truth and what will not. Additionally, because they’ve done the work on their own ego, become happy with themselves and no longer have the need to be liked, they’re less likely to go along with what others say as a way of people-pleasing. As such, they are far less susceptible to group think. And that’s what it means to be conscious. 

Know Thyself

Non-attachment is very key, because it keeps you from latching onto information simply because you WANT it to be true (and just because you want it to be true–i.e. it confirms your own biases, etc.–doesn’t mean that it is). Non-attachment allows you to look at and evaluate information from various angles.

Knowing your values is what helps you determine if a person/thing measures up to your spirituality. My personal core values are:

  • Integrity
  • Authenticity
  • Vulnerability
  • Knowledge
  • Empathy
  • Connection

Does the source of the information that I’m reading come from someone who is authentic, has integrity, shows vulnerability, or a deep knowledge and understanding about something? Do they have empathy? Do they care about the whole? If the answer to any of those questions is no, or I don’t know, then those are red flags.

Finally, critical thinking is the most obvious and important way to gauge information. But what you will find is that people will use spirituality to bypass critical thinking (this is another form of spiritual bypassing, particularly if the critical thinking piece is going to catalyze inner-growth). As we’ve discussed previously, critical thinking means objectively measuring and weighing the validity of new information, and non-attachment and the values test are tools for critical thinking.

In summary, my main point with this post is that we need to start taking personal responsibility for the information we consume, and the people who claim technology is brainwashing them (or anyone) are not doing that… because they don’t want to be responsible for themselves. Being responsible for yourself is hard. Being responsible for what you think and believe, on the surface, is super easy, but as we know from shadow work, it’s probably actually one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do.

Are You Awake or Just Woke?

Is There A Correct Spiritual Path?

Is There A Correct Spiritual Path?

Question from a reader:

“Do you know of any spiritual teachers or mentors that could possibly guide someone in the right direction without charging a fee? I read a lot of emails and articles and this is the first I’ve ever seen about credibility. I’m basically blindly doing my spiritual journey on my own. I don’t have anyone to direct me into the correct path and I’m confused on a couple of things.”

It’s been ages since I’ve done a Q&A post, but this was submitted as a comment on my post about spiritual teacher credibility and I thought it was worth addressing for a broader audience.

Blindly doing your spiritual journey on your own is, to some degree, the right thing to do!

A lot of people, especially in the beginning, get hung up seeking answers from outside of themselves, looking for people to tell us what is the “correct” path. I’ll tell you there is no correct path, as they all tend to lead to the same destination in the end. What does tend to happen, though, is people get stuck somewhere on their chosen path and stop progressing because they got mired in some kind of belief system that only applies to that specific path. That’s where things are a bit tricky.

A good spiritual teacher will guide you, certainly, but they’re always going to direct you back to yourself.

Reading articles is the right thing to do! And, as the adage goes, take what resonates and leave the rest. If something doesn’t resonate, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. It could mean that it’s a belief you’ve outgrown, or it could mean you haven’t grown into it yet. Our world views can, do, and should change as we grow, spiritually.

How To Know If A Spiritual Teacher Is Credible

How To Know If A Spiritual Teacher Is Credible

How To Know If A Spiritual Teacher Is Credible

The concept of credibility came up in my post on critical thinking and spirituality yesterday. I think part of our issue today with all of the misinformation floating around is that a lot of people don’t really understand what credibility means. Today I’m going to give you a rundown of what makes someone credible in the realms of science and journalism, and how to apply that to spirituality.

For those who may not know me, my current day job is as a marketing director and science writer/editor for a private research university on the East Coast. I write about and promote scientific research across the gamut of science and engineering, including quantum mechanics and computing, biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity, robotics, data science, electrical and computer engineering, and environmental science. I graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism–one of the top three programs in the country–in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a minor in sociology. I worked for four years at various advertising agencies as a writer and account executive, then I moved on to the tech realm for another seven years where I helped develop, brand, and market social media platforms, apps, and other technology-centric businesses. I also did a six-year stint volunteering for an animal welfare organization in one of the most impoverished cities in the country helping them with marketing, branding, and other external communications. And finally, most of you know me because I’ve been writing a little spirituality blog for the past six years.

These are my credentials. Credentials are what constitutes credibility in a specific area. My credentials provide me with at least some credibility in the areas of journalism, animal welfare, not-for-profit marketing, social systems, constructs, and behavior, science and technology, marketing and advertising, and spirituality, as these are areas that I have years of direct experience in, as well as an educational background.

In the world of academia you have to have A LOT of credentials to be considered credible, especially in science due to the technical nature of the subject matter. It’s not enough to simply have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or chemistry–that makes you credible to the layman, but not to other scientists and engineers. To have credibility among other scientists and engineers, one needs to have at the very least a Ph.D. in the subject matter in which they are attempting to speak on, and people with Ph.D.s who work in academia are quick to tell you, “I can’t speak on that. I’m not an expert in that area” when it comes to media inquiries. I work with a guy who is developing a mask that’s made of anti-viral materials for potential applications with COVID, and he can’t (and won’t) speak to the efficiency of regular medical masks, because his expertise is in chemically-based materials (materials science), not disease transmission (virology, epidemiology, microbiology).

Most folks with a Ph.D. spend their lives studying one-two specific problems that fall within their general area. For example, I work with a quantum physicist who specializes in quantum entanglement. Everything he does is relative to entanglement and nothing else. Another quantum physicist works in the area of gravity. He only researches theories related to gravity and nothing else. Another quantum physicist I work with researches ways to engineer quantum computing technology. He only researches quantum computing and nothing else. The guy who does quantum computing doesn’t consider himself an expert in gravity, and the guy who is an expert in gravity doesn’t consider himself qualified to speak about quantum computing, even though they both have a Ph.D. in physics. The guy who is an expert on quantum entanglement? His work overlaps both areas. This is why scientists often collaborate–they bring in people who have the same level of expertise as they do, but in a closely related area.

To be honest, though, lots of people have Ph.D.s and some are really good at what they do and others not so much, just like any other vocation. What makes a scientist with a Ph.D. highly credible is how many peer-reviewed papers they’ve published, the prestige of the organizations from which they’ve been awarded funding, the amount of funding, and the impact factor of the peer-reviewed Journals they’ve been published in. Science and Nature are the holy grails of science publications. If you make it in there, it’s really special. (Peer review means that your published research is sent out to a group of other scientists with expertise in your same area, and they try to disprove your findings. If none of them can disprove your findings, your work is considered good until some other research comes along that refutes it. This is the scientific process at work.)

Scientific misconduct–a.k.a. faking or stealing your research results–does happen occasionally within the scientific community, as well as flukes and accidents, and that’s why the peer-review process exists. It’s meant to be a filter to catch anything that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If a scientific paper has not been through the peer-review process, it’s considered far less credible than one that has, because it hasn’t been put to the test.

In the scientific community, when someone has engaged in scientific misconduct, they lose any and all credibility. How can anyone ever trust what you’re saying if you’ve lied about your results, stolen another researcher’s work (which they’ve often been working on their entire adult lives), or constantly put out sloppy test results? This is the problem with Judy Mikovits (Plandemic). Mikovits lied multiple times in her documentary, she also lied about her research, and she stole research. Even though she has a Ph.D., she’s not considered a credible source by anyone in the scientific community (note the publication of this article is 2011, years before Mikovits went viral) due to all of the above, and her research results having been refuted by peer-review. No one could replicate it, and for science to be proven, it has to have a repeatable result.

As a journalist writing about science or any other subject, you have to be able to digest and understand what the experts are talking about, but you, yourself, do not carry the credibility in the subject matter–the credibility lies with the people you interview. That’s why you interview subject-matter experts. For you, the credibility comes with whether or not you are presenting the information from the interview accurately, within its proper context, citing credible sources, and presenting the information in a balanced way (i.e. presenting multiple, and especially opposing perspectives on an issue). Anything that doesn’t do this can be considered biased.

Credible sources for a journalist would be people with academic credentials, credible eye-witnesses, business people with many years of experience, etc. It’s a journalist’s job to check and verify the credentials of a source. It’s also that journalist’s job to cite that person’s credentials in the story. A journalist should also directly verify every piece of information included in an article before it’s published.

It’s an editor’s job to ensure that this happens and that all quality control measures are in place prior to a publication–similar to the peer-review process. It’s also their job to make sure a piece is marketable to their target audience. Is this content the audience cares about? Is this something they’ll want to read? Is this a headline they will click on?

If a journalist repeatedly publishes content that doesn’t meet good journalism standards, they risk losing their professional credibility. If an editor repeatedly allows content to be published that doesn’t meet good journalism standards, they risk losing their professional credibility. A couple of editors at the New York Times have recently resigned after publishing articles that they DIDN’T EVEN READ. (You had ONE job…literally, what are you being paid for?)

It’s no secret that certain publications prioritize pandering to their audiences above good journalism. We all know exactly which publications those are. Everyone likes to blame the media, but the truth is, if the audience didn’t click on it, read it, and share it, it wouldn’t make money, there wouldn’t be a market for it, and it wouldn’t happen. Marketability is everything. The media gives people what they want. And people want information that reaffirms their (often biased) worldview. It’s precisely why they read those publications, specifically, in the first place. If you cared about non-biased news, you’d read NPR all day every day, avoid 24-hour cable news networks, and that would be the end of it. (As an aside, documentaries are not necessarily a source of unbiased material, as documentary makers are film-makers, ultimately for entertainment purposes, and under no legal or moral obligation to present an unbiased story and often make documentaries to tell a very specific narrative.)

That now leads us to spirituality… how does one deconstruct their worldview from being so biased? Self-awareness and shadow work! There’s lots of spiritual teachers out there that can help you do that, but how many of them are credible?

Spirituality isn’t something you can really learn from getting a certificate or taking an online course. I personally don’t trust people who tout those kinds of credentials, because experience is hard-earned, and it’s the only thing that gives us true spiritual knowledge. You also can’t go to school to embody spirituality. So what about people who woke up one day and suddenly started channeling? Isn’t that a god-given gift for them to use? Honestly, no. And this is where we come back to hard-earned experience.

The measure of a credible spiritual teacher is the depth of shadow-work they’ve done on themselves.

Shadow work doesn’t happen overnight or when you complete an online course, it happens over the course of a lifetime. You’ll be able to evaluate a credible spiritual teacher because they will embody the following qualities and behaviors:

A good spiritual teacher has been through hell and come out the other side, humbled. A good spiritual teacher has the ability to see situations (and the world) from multiple angles and understand how everyone arrived at their conclusions, but also see the middle ground. A good spiritual teacher knows they are never done learning. Most importantly, a good spiritual teacher doesn’t avoid discomfort, confrontation, or negativity, but handles those situations constructively and with grace.

Not only are these qualities to measure a spiritual teacher by, they’re qualities to measure a good leader by. These qualities are what gives someone’s character credibility. You can have professional credibility and you can have intellectual credibility, but as a spiritual teacher, if you don’t have credibility of character, you really have nothing, because character is the thing you are building through self-awareness, and it’s the thing you are becoming an expert in through your own healing process process.

Are You A Critical Thinker?

Are You A Critical Thinker?

Are You A Critical Thinker?

I posted a poll in my Facebook group a couple of weeks ago asking which topics people would be most interested in having me write about, and critical thinking within the context of spirituality came out on top by far. I think it’s an especially important topic in this day and age when there’s so much misinformation swirling about on the internet. Consider this your crash course in the foundations of critical thinking.

Critical thinking: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

Critical thinking is our weapon of discernment against a lack of self-awareness and unconscious behavior both within ourselves and the world around us.

We can define unconscious behavior in the world around us as:

Herd mentality: the inclination for individuals within a group to follow along with what the group at large thinks or does. It is also known as mob behavior, group mind, group think, crowd psychology, and other similar terms.

Groupthink: the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.

Simply having the same beliefs as another group of people isn’t bad, and it doesn’t mean you’re a sheep. Holding those beliefs without having any self-awareness about why, where they came from, and having spent little or no time engaging in the exploration of opposing beliefs (from unbiased sources), is what makes people sheep.

We make the assumption that critical thinking is about evaluating and judging the world around us, but it’s just as much about, if not more, evaluating and judging the way we SEE the world around us – that’s where we develop objectivity. Critical thinking and self-awareness aren’t necessarily the same thing, but critical thinkers tend to have self-awareness as a prerequisite.

Example: If you still hold the same political beliefs as your parents did before you, as well as the majority of the people who live in the region where you grew up and/or currently reside, or if you still see yourself as the same person now that you were when you were 20, or if you still maintain the same religious ideologies that you were taught as a child – that might be a red flag that some self-examination is required.

Spirituality catalyzes evolution. If you haven’t evolved in the most deeply rooted, fundamental ways that you perceive the world around you, something’s not clicking.

Only when you’ve developed the ability to be self-critical can you truly think critically about the world around you.

That’s what real spirituality–specifically shadow work–teaches us to do.

Attempting to deconstruct the world around you before deconstructing the world within you will not bear any meaningful fruit, because everything will still be a projection of the unexamined internal self.

I’ve often touted the notion that humans are not logical beings, but rather, rational beings. We create rationales for what we believe, but those rationales are not always logical, nor will they ever be if we have yet to examine ourselves deeply.

If you trust everything you see around you–question yourself.

If you are suspicious of everything you see around you–question yourself.

No one should ever always be on one end of a spectrum. Ironically, conspiratorial thinking is a prime example of herd mentality and groupthink. It’s just one that’s dressed itself up in a facade of faux critical thinking (that doesn’t actually think critically). It values the perception of critical thinking, but embodies few, if any, of the actual practices involved. Why?

Critical thinking requires taking in a multitude of perspectives. It requires doing research AND trusting experts. It requires observing all possibilities and making a sound judgement based on factual evidence.

A fact is defined as: a thing that is known or proved to be true. In science, a fact is a repeatable careful observation or measurement (by experimentation or other means), also called empirical evidence. In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.

Critical thinking underpins the scientific process. The scientific process accepts nothing that can’t be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. It withholds judgement until there is enough evidence to support a conclusion, and it literally offers up its hypothesis to a community of experts to be picked apart, critiqued, and dismantled in every way possible, until the majority of experts agree that it stands up to scrutiny well enough.

That’s exactly how you think critically.

A critical thinker is not:

  • A  lone wolf (because critical thinkers value the perspectives of others, especially those of experts).
  • Simply someone who has different ideas than everyone else (because who think logically often arrive at the same conclusions).
  • Someone who thinks differently than what is popular (because sometimes what makes the most logical sense is also widely accepted among groups of critical thinkers).
  • Simply someone who does their own research (because critical thinkers recognize when other people know more than them about a given topic).
  • Someone who only accepts the ideas and opinions of a single group (because critical thinkers evaluate all perspectives within reason).
  • Someone who denies factual evidence (because factual evidence is how we measure the world objectively).
  • Someone who dismisses expert opinions (because critical thinkers know that experts know more about a subject than they do).
  • And most importantly, a critical thinker is not someone who refuses to accept new information once it’s been presented (because critical thinkers measure their opinions objectively, and objectivity requires the acceptance of factual evidence, especially new factual evidence).

Conspiratorial thinking has a tendency to dismiss factual evidence in favor of conjecture, and will constantly shift and change its theories and hypothesis to fit the narrative (i.e. coming up with excuses as to why something didn’t play out as predicted) or deny evidence altogether as being false. Unlike a real criminal investigation, which looks at factual evidence first and then pieces together a story based on the evidence, conspiracy theory begins with a narrative and finds circumstantial evidence to support the theory while ignoring anything that discredits it. It’s the exact opposite of a criminal investigation, and the exact opposite of critical thinking, because it’s attached to an internal belief rather than an objective observation.

But, you say, spirituality teaches us to question everything and believe nothing! It tells us to find our own truth! How can spirituality and critical thinking co-exist?

Like I said–spirituality tells us to first examine OURSELVES above all else. And until we think critically about ourselves, we will never be able to think critically (or objectively) about the world around us. It is only after questioning yourself first, and then the world around you, can you see things objectively enough to find your own truth.

Do We Manifest Abusive Experiences?

Do We Manifest Abusive Experiences?

Do We Manifest Abusive Experiences?

If you’ve been in spiritual circles for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard some form of the idea that we create our reality, and we manifest our experiences, and as such, we must take responsibility for ourselves and our experiences in order to create the outcomes we desire.

This concept becomes dangerously twisted, however, when applied to victims of abuse such as sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, rape, and systemic oppression. That doesn’t stop many well-meaning spiritual people from using it to dismiss and otherwise invalidate the very real experiences of abuse victims. I’ve come across some form of it a lot over the course of my spiritual development, particularly in the early stages, including touting it as channeled information from spirit guides, etc.

At the time, I wasn’t educated enough on the subject to know better, and I took the word of psychics and channelers. Having had many years to grow in understanding and develop spiritually, I now realize how this is an over-simplification and only serves to damage and shame victims of abuse.

Some of the forms of this message have been:

  • Your souls contracted for this experience.
  • Your thoughts create your reality, therefore, your victim mentality created this situation.
  • There’s an energy exchange between abuser and the abused, and if the abused wasn’t putting out that kind of energy they wouldn’t attract this experience.

I’d like to break each one of these down and explain why this is misunderstood and damaging.

“Your souls contracted for this experience”

If soul contracts in these situations are such a thing, then the ONLY purpose I can see for them is that it is a contract to bring light to these dynamics so that they can be healed and ended. That does NOT mean that we simply dismiss it as “well you signed up for this” and forget about it. It means that it’s a contract between YOU and the people involved as well, and THEIR dynamic is meant to teach YOU empathy and what it means to protect the vulnerable.

“Your thoughts create your reality, therefore, your victim mentality created this situation”

As I’ve said before… a victim mentality only exists when the abuse is imaginary… but victim mentalities are often rooted in real trauma and abuse. In that case, we must go back to the source. A person’s first experience with abuse can never be the result of their own thoughts because the experience has never entered into their awareness.

Abusive experiences and patterns are ALMOST ALWAYS ancestral, handed down from one generation and inflicted onto the next. By simply incarnating into that ancestral line, one will experience that abuse. This, you might call a soul contract. But soul contracts are not only experiences, they are opportunities to heal. As an observer of that contract, you become a part of the collective contract and you are offered an opportunity to heal group karma that enables abusers through rape culture, systemic racism, and other destructive social climates.

By telling someone that they manifested their abuse, you are absolving the abuser of accountability, and thus AIDING in the manifestation of that experience.

“There’s an energy exchange between abuser and the abused, and if the the abused wasn’t putting out that kind of energy they wouldn’t attract this experience”

With regard to there being an energy exchange between abuser and the abused – what this really means is boundaries.

People can only abuse you if you continue to allow it, and often times that requires learning to uphold and maintain healthy boundaries. But many times, power dynamics make upholding boundaries extremely difficult. It’s called abuse because the person or group who has the the most power is using that power to abuse a person or group who has less of it. This, too, is ancestral, because the only way a person or group obtains more power than another is by accumulating it over time (the only exception being a parent/child dynamic in which case it exists from the moment the child is born).

Who allowed that person to accumulate that power, unchecked?

Who continues to enable them to wield that power without consequence?

The answer is the collective. The family members who don’t speak up or step in. The friends who never say anything. The “good” cops who don’t report the bad cops. The people who say “boys will be boys.” The well-to-do family who protects their sons and daughters from the consequences of their actions. 

All of the people who see this abuse taking place and say nothing? They are just as responsible, because they allow abusers to avoid being held accountable.

You can’t tell someone that they’ve manifested their own oppression or abuse without pointing the finger at yourself for being a part of the collective that allowed it to happen.

So… let’s shut this toxic shit down wherever we see it. Okay?

The Most Important Work You Will Ever Do

The Most Important Work You Will Ever Do

The Most Important Work You Will Ever Do

I think the root of all of the worlds problems are pretty obvious. Sure, it’s layered and multi-faceted, but there’s always a root problem that enables another problem layered on top of that which enables another problem layered on top of that.

Our root problem is that we believe in the illusion that there is a lack of love (fear), and we then act from that belief.

The mechanism which enables that belief is patriarchy.

Patriarchy is the suppression of the divine feminine essence within each of us (and as a consequence, the feminine bodies around us).

The feminine is our emotions, our empathy, our intuition, and our connection to the divine. Without the feminine, we would not be able to know, feel, or recognize that we are all connected, and that we are all one with the greater force of the universe which is Love.

We have created a culture where the feminine essence is shunned and suppressed, especially within men. When the connection to the feminine essence is severed, it creates a deep core wound. And then those men (and many times women as well), cut off from their connection with universal Love and operating from that core wound, perpetrate acts of violence and oppression, whether overt and obvious or subtle and insidious, as a means to control and dominate others (toxic masculinity).

When we talk about the rise of the divine feminine, we aren’t talking about female bodies. We’re talking about the feminine essence in all of us – a reconnection to our emotions, our empathy, our intuition, and our divine selves.

Only with this counterbalance can the masculine essence be recalibrated to its true purpose, which is to protect the vulnerable, not control them, dismiss them, or otherwise disempower them.

Each of us can only reconnect with our feminine essence if and when we participate in the work of examining our shadow (our ego) and unlearn all of the negative cultural and ancestral programming that we have operated from, participated in, and enabled in our society at large and HEAL the core wound, which we would experience on a personal level as an ego death. The process of an ego death is what we call a dark night of the soul.

We have to look at how this plays out on an individual level as well as within group collectives (because one enables the other, thus creating a mirror effect).

“The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our own shadow onto others.” – Carl Jung

Shadow work is THE work.

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