Check Your Spiritual Elitism
This is why it’s important that we recognize when and how systems of oppression and classism show up in our community and in our own spiritual and business practices.
Privilege and spiritual elitism go hand-in-hand.
When spiritual practices become fads and drive up the popularity and cost of accessories, it creates a class of elitism that only those with a certain level of financial privilege can aspire to.
As a spiritual practitioner or coach, it’s important to consider the products and practices you publicly promote and engage in, how much you associate them with an elite lifestyle, and whether or not those products and practices are actually accessible to everyone. Here’s a few areas we may want to examine.
Examples of Spiritual Privilege
Buying crystals, singing bowls, essential oils, candles, and other physical accessories.
Particularly with crystals, singing bowls, and oils, prices can be very high and are not affordable or an option for everyone. Being able to afford these things is a privilege. Additionally, there are ethical issues surrounding many of these items. For example, using white sage bundles as an energy cleansing ritual is a culturally appropriated native spiritual practice. White sage itself is being over-harvested for commercial use, and in many instances, the proceeds for the sale of a piece of native culture isn’t returned to the native community. This is exploitation.
Learn more about what you can do avoid exploiting native people’s spiritual practices.
As I’ve discussed before, crystals have their own ethical problems. Many crystals are mined with child labor, just like blood diamonds, and the mining itself has an environmental impact. It’s important to look for sustainably-mined crystals and be conscious about why you want them. The onus for this also does not necessarily only fall on the individual. Wholesalers and shop owners need to be diligent about where they are sourcing form, and mining should be regulated by the government to prevent environmental depletion.
Purchasing readings, healing sessions, and attending retreats.
These are high-ticket experiences that most popular coaches sell at top dollar value, eliminating access to those who fall below a certain income threshold and preventing them from the same experience of spirituality as those with money.
It’s important to remember that the majority of those who will be priced out of these experiences are ethnic minorities. This results in a spiritual version of racial inequality that is tantamount to gatekeeping. Spirituality becomes a practice that is accessible only to those who have means, and most of those people are white.
Partaking in food and herb trends, becoming vegan, or eating only organic.
There are many psychics and healers out there who believe that one must purify their body by only eating an organic, plant-based diet, and they’ll also tell you that eating meat is consuming “fear energy.” This is a special kind of food elitism. The prices of foods considered “health food” are out of the affordability range for many, especially those with families who require government assistance, and in many cultures, a plant-based diet simply isn’t sustainable.
Believing that people should adhere to such a diet in order to be considered “pure” is not only an aspect of purity culture, it is also racist toward any culture whose ethnic foods revolve around meat.
In addition to the racist undertones, labeling certain foods as “clean” or “spiritual” contributes to disordered eating and shame around food for people with histories of dysmorphia, anorexia, bulimia, or orthorexia.
Spiritual Narcissism + Privilege = Spiritual Elitism
Believing that going on retreats, eating certain diets, doing yoga, or owning sacred objects makes you better or more conscious than others is spiritual elitism. Using those things to boost your self esteem is spiritual narcissism.
Becoming aware of the ways that the spiritual community gate-keeps spirituality from people who are poor, ill, etc. is part and parcel to dissolving systems of oppression. These are just a few of the ways (white) privilege creeps into spirituality. I challenge you to make this exploration a practice of its own.
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