Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities
How is it that New Agers, yoga moms, Neo Nazis, Evangelical Christians, and a slew of other unlikely comrades all ended up under the spell of a conspiracy narrative that positioned a man of highly questionable character who clearly suffers from textbook narcissistic personality disorder as both a “lightworker” and the man saving the world’s children from elite Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles?
First you have to understand the different camps of people who have gravitated to QAnon. Every single person who is a part of the Qult will fall into one or more of the following categories (there may be more, but these are the ones I’ve observed):
- Newly introduced to spirituality
- Individualist outlook and political ideology
- Low capacity for empathy or low emotional intelligence
- Higher level of narcissistic tendencies
- Low capacity for critical thinking and discernment
- Unhealed trauma and poor coping skills
Spirituality today is more accessible and mainstream than ever before, which has resulted in droves of the “newly awakened” and spiritually curious.
People who are only a few months and even up to three and four years into their spiritual journey are opening up their minds in new and exciting ways, and discovering all kinds of information that’s changing their entire perspective on their lives. Naturally, there’s a certain stage inherent in this where you’re willing to literally consider anything, including conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories are not new to spirituality. If you’ve been around long enough, you know that they’ve always been creeping around in the dingy corners, whether it’s lizard people, the Illuminati, or flat earth. There’s absolutely a conspiracy phase that a lot of people go through during their awakening process and not everyone makes it out (more on this in a bit).
Newcomers to spirituality have minds that are wide open–it’s almost like seeing the world in a whole new light–but they lack the knowledge to own their healing and as such, haven’t done any shadow work yet. Because of this, they have a low capacity for spiritual or intuitive discernment–doubly so if they already have poor critical thinking skills. This combination of open-mindedness and lack of discernment makes them incredibly vulnerable to spiritual bullshit, including conspiracy theories and spiritual abuse.
We’ve all been there. You’re just starting out, you don’t know anything, and you put your faith in people who appear to have more wisdom or more of a connection to the divine than you do, which makes you highly susceptible to influence by figures of perceived authority, such as wellness influencers, psychics, and channels. Along comes QAnon, wrapped in flowery love and light, and it’s being peddled by influencers who themselves are still in early the stages of awakening and have prematurely named themselves spiritual authorities, so newcomers fall for it hook, line, and sinker–especially if they’re already steeped in individualist political ideology and belief systems, because it’s confirmation bias, right?
Additionally, when you first begin your spiritual journey, it can be lonely and isolating when no one else around you gets it, so you search for community online via social media. When you find a group of people who seem to be on the same journey you are, it’s validating! But this also makes one incredibly vulnerable to manipulation by charismatic spiritual leaders and influencers and their flocks of brainwashed, unquestioning followers.
Individualism: Where Christians, Conservatives, and New Agers Meet
QAnon makes itself attractive to Evangelical Christians and conservatives through individualist values and political ideology, which is where you also have an overlap with the popular but misunderstood New Age personal empowerment rhetoric, where one’s inherent worth and goodness as a human being is directly correlated to or evident by their ability to amass wealth and be successful, or in other words their God-given blessings / their hard work that paid off / what they’ve “attracted” into their life through their “positivity.”
Donald Trump is culturally associated with being worthy, deserving, and “blessed” by those who hold individualist values because he’s a billionaire (never mind that he was born into wealth, or the shady business practices and tax evasion that helped him keep it…). The Q narrative that he’s also an undercover lightworker is the “proof” of his inherent goodness, and his outward manifestations of narcissism are dismissed and explained away as “fake news,” a conspiratorial plot against him, or just playing the part so that he can infiltrate the deep state. Hint: no real lightworker will ever consciously perpetrate acts of abuse. The label we give to people who consciously perpetrate acts of abuse is abuser.
If you read the post I just linked to, it explains how an individualist mentality, when taken to an extreme, is actually a form of separation consciousness. Those who are early in their spiritual journey don’t understand this because, once again, they haven’t been in the game long enough to have the depth of understanding of spiritual principles to recognize it.
Narcissism, Racism, and Spirituality
As I mentioned in the post I linked above about individualism, the further on the scale of individualism one is, the more self-centric they tend to be, and absolute individualism is tantamount to the ultimate narcissism. In fact, social scientists are studying the ways narcissism shows up in wester culture:
Researchers say we have a ‘narcissism epidemic’. So what’s causing it?
Are you an important person? The answer you give may indicate to psychologists how narcissistic you are. Similarly, the culture you are born into plays an important role.
I’ve written before about how narcissists are attracted to positions of authority where they can amass groups of people to worship them, which makes spirituality a prime target. And a key trait of a narcissist is a low capacity for or total lack of empathy. What do I mean when I say a low capacity for empathy?
I mean that they find it difficult to imagine what it might feel like to be someone else, and as such, don’t have a lot of compassion for their fellow man, or feel any sense of social responsibility. The ones who can muster at least some selective empathy are usually only able to do so within their inner circle. They don’t have the same capacity or perhaps desire to empathize with strangers. In other words, they usually only empathize with someone when that person’s pain directly impacts them (and their own emotions).
Some of the more extreme QAnon believers who are not spiritual (read: Nazis), and even some who are spiritual have a low capacity for empathy and, subsequently, a low emotional intelligence. This low capacity for empathy remains even after they are exposed to spirituality because they don’t engage in the necessary shadow work.
Many Q influencers exhibit narcissistic tendencies and engage in forms of spiritual abuse, which means that their underlying motivation for sharing the QAnon narrative is to use it as an avenue to amass power over others and build their narcissistic energy supply. I’ve watched many of them belittle and berate their followers who question why their predictions haven’t come to fruition yet with things like, “Stop whining,” and “Suck it up,” “Either ride it out or cry yourself to sleep,” and “Stop posting whiney bullshit.”
One therapist posits that cultural narcissism is the root of white fragility. Certainly bigotry requires a fundamental lack of empathy, which can be present due to narcissism.
This is not the first time that New Age thought and mysticism has found itself associated with Nazi-branded fascism. Check out this article by Jules Evans about mysticism within Hitler’s regime.
The Women of QAnon
Those spiritual folks who have fallen under the spell of Q who do have a greater capacity for empathy are lured in by one or both of two things:
- the emotional charge behind the QAnon narrative of child sacrifice and sex trafficking
- the promise of making the world a safe place
I read an oped written by a sexual assault counselor who was trying to understand how some of the victims that she worked with could possibly support Donald Trump, considering the litany of accusations against him, including the infamous recording of “grab her by the pussy.” Every single one of the survivors she interviewed told her that Trump made them feel safer.
Women who are sexually assaulted are statistically likely to have a prior history of abuse. Many times that abuse begins at home. It’s possible that a woman who’s been sexually assaulted and feels safe because of Trump’s toxic masculinity tough guy talk likely had a toxic masculine authority figure during childhood and the only thing that makes her feel safe is the idea that there’s a man around who is capable of kicking someone’s ass to protect her. The Q narrative that Trump is kicking bad guy ass all over the world and saving victims of sexual abuse, particularly children, is going to resonate with that unhealed trauma.
People who have grown up in a household with abuse are also less likely to be able to identify abusive behavior in the future, which not only makes them easy prey for the narcissists in the spiritual community, it means that they have trouble identifying red flags when they see them, which explains why these people seem to be blind to the parade of red flag behavior coming from Donald Trump and a large number of Q influencers.
One of the more bizarre aspects of QAnon is the number of psychics and channels claiming to be receiving intuitive information about Trump being a lightworker (I was just sent another last night). Remember back at the beginning of this where I said that not everybody makes it out of the conspiracy phase? A lot of the so-called psychics and channels that are peddling QAnon information never grew beyond this phase of their spiritual awakening (and some are just delusional narcissists).
There’s a certain lack of groundedness (root chakra issues) at play with individuals who’ve fallen into the Qult which makes them extremely susceptible to fear–that lack of safety I talked about just a minute ago falls into this category. Without doing the appropriate shadow work to heal the trauma behind these blocks, these folks never develop discernment in the spiritual sense. This major lack of discernment (third eye block/imbalance) renders them unable to see things clearly or think critically. I’ve noticed that a certain subset of QAnon supporters seem to have a very weak capacity for pattern perception in terms of big picture and an overdeveloped sense of pattern perception with details. They can’t seem to get beyond the details of the conspiracy narrative and see the real big picture of how unrelated these things are (great video about abstract vs. narrow thought here).
Trauma, particularly early childhood trauma, physically alters the human brain, increasing the size of the amygdala (fear-response center), increasing right-brain activity (intuition, big-picture meaning, and feeling) and decreasing left-brain activity (reason, logic, pattern perception, and narrow-focus/details).
The Venn diagram of conspiracy theorists and ungrounded spiritual folks who lack discernment heavily overlaps in one area specifically, which is a propensity for apophenia. Apophenia, also known as magical thinking, is the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things, or see patterns in random data. You’ll see people in the spiritual community attributing spiritual meanings to all sorts of very common, explainable, ordinary things, like insisting that lens flares are actually spirit orbs, which is, once again, indicative of that lack of critical thinking and discernment.
Because none of these people have engaged in any in-depth amount of shadow work to heal their trauma, and subsequently, shed old belief systems and programming, they’re not truly what we might call a “clear channel” or fully in tune with their intuition, which means they can’t discern the difference between apophenia or their ego and actual intuition, and any information they may intuit will be filtered through their twisted belief system–including their political ideologies and individualistic values, as well as any mental or emotional illnesses.
Here’s an excerpt from chapter 7 of Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith that discusses this:
The sixth chakra is where our capacity for discernment lies. A healthy sixth chakra (Third eye) not only accesses psychic realms, but also enables us to discern Truth.
Excess energy in the sixth chakra happens when energy is withdrawn from the lower chakras. Without the grounding that brings limitation and simplicity, a person can get lost in the boundlessness of the upper chakras and have no way to sort it out. They may over identify with archetypal energies and have too little personal ego to balance it. One may think they are Jesus, Cleopatra, or the next president, but have little awareness of their effect on their closest friends. The archetypal fantasies are used to buffer the weak ego and bring feelings of importance and power. They may discover some element of their past lives, and then attribute every current problem to unresolved issues from this memory.
As I do psychic readings in my own work, I am constantly amazed and shocked by the power some people give to a psychic reader. I am usually tipped off to a sixth chakra excess when the person sits down and tells me with wide-eyed seriousness every detail of a former reading as if it were gospel. The sixth chakra is wide open, without discernment or discrimination. It is important to remain open to psychic, nonrational input, but equally important to rationally sort through it. Lack of discernment reveals poor sixth chakra boundaries, which allow it to become overloaded.
This is not to deny the possible value of intuition, past life memories, precognition, telepathy, or any other psychic arts. With sixth chakra excess, however, the ability to discern truth from fantasy becomes impaired. The universality of the sixth chakra opens to the vastness on the astral plane where anything goes without the testing ground of the lower chakras. This is a dangerous state.
The absence of energy in the lower chakras makes it easy to come and go from the body and so this person may indeed be receiving psychic input. This does not mean that all their input is accurate however, or that the perceived patterns are getting integrated into consciousness. Such people can often become “channelers,” people who have the ability to leave their body and let other entities come through them. Opinions on the value of channeling vary from person to person. Whether the information channeled is from a separate, discorporate entity, one’s unconscious or higher self, or subject to the whim of the imagination, there is no doubt that in some cases, accurate information can come through. As with any psychic activity, there must be a testing ground that sorts through what is said with discrimination. The excessive sixth chakra wants to bypass this process.
Note: When she talks about ego, she means the ego in the psychological sense, not the typical sense in which spiritual people talk about the ego. Learn more about that here.
According to the author, upper-chakra imbalances are a result of lower-chakra imbalances. Think of the chakra system like a house, where the root chakra is the foundation. If the foundation is off, the whole house is wobbly. Our most basic survival needs and fears are governed by the root chakra, and our emotional center is governed by the sacral chakra, which is where the bocks and imbalances from emotional abuse largely lie.
When you think about the sorts of traumas inflicted socially (poverty, racism, misogyny), they mostly affect the root chakra where our sense of safety and ability to meet our basic survival needs is housed. Generational trauma (sexual abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, parental narcissistic abuse) mostly affects the sacral chakra which governs our emotional regulation, boundaries, and relationships with others. It’s really no wonder we have a very large group of millions of people who end up projecting their own unhealed trauma onto the world around them, manifesting in a lack of discernment and critical thinking.
It’s also not a coincidence that sufferers from many types of mental illness have also experienced trauma and are drawn to New Age mysticism.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
All of this unhealed trauma that is likely evident in those who follow QAnon also means that many of them have unexamined coping mechanisms resultant from said trauma.
In general, there are very poor emotional coping skills exhibited among adherents of QAnon, and it’s even worse for the ones with low emotional intelligence. Their untrained, unhealed nervous systems have been overwhelmed by the stress, fear, and anxiety that has come with a global pandemic and precarious economic situation, so their unhealthy coping mechanisms are to:
- look outside of themselves for a sense of safety (looking for a savior)
- deny the reality in front of them (self-gaslighting, a symptom of prolonged exposure to psychological abuse)
- and delusion (as an avenue to insulate them from having to sit with and experience uncomfortable emotions)
Throw in a highly charged election rife with disinformation and you have a recipe for disaster. These people were attracted to the Q narrative because it gave them something to focus on other than their own feelings of powerlessness and lack of control. It made them feel like everything was going to be ok, because someone else had it under control. QAnon provides all of the material necessary for one massive act of spiritual bypassing.
Overall, 2020 was the perfect storm of a lack of discernment and critical thinking skills, unhealed trauma and spiritual bypassing, an openness to be led and a desire for a savior, spiritual naivety, a desire for connection, and an individualistic culture that left millions of people incredibly vulnerable to the Q narrative. If you’ve managed to make it out of 2020 without falling into conspiratorial thought processes, congratulations! You’re a (mostly) stable, balanced, grounded human being!
The Big Reveal
I’ll be completely honest, I’d never even heard of QAnon until early 2020. I spent mid 2017 through February of 2020 in a cocoon. I didn’t even start blogging again until March, after having been silent for an entire year while I was taking care of my own mental health. I never even noticed a single influencer talking about it, mainly because I can smell spiritual bullshit from a mile a way and I never follow those who speak it.
QAnon gave us a gift, though. Back in summer of 2018, I wrote this in an instagram post:
Since the August 21st solar eclipse, there’s been a lot of triggering events in the collective that are systematically dismantling the world as we know it to make way for rebuilding new paradigm. This particular one has to do with spirituality. It kind of reminds me of Revelations when it talks about the false prophets. This energy, to me, feels like the fall of “false spirituality.” That could mean religion and other institutions, but I’m really feeling that the way it’s going to hit the New Age community is that people who have prostituted spirituality, bastardized spirituality for personal gain, are going to fall hard.
People are going to begin to see through the bullshit. This means anyone who isn’t 100% authentic in how they are presenting themselves to the masses, anyone who is peddling trite spiritual platitudes as a way to build their social media following or sell their wares–people are going to start to see through them.
I saw it like a wave…. one wave hits the beach and as the next wave comes in, it pulls the first one back and away. This upheaval makes way for the ones who have been standing in their authentic selves and their truth to come forward into the mainstream. The new wave of authenticity overtakes the old. It felt like someone or maybe more than one big name person was going to have a very public outing. A fall from grace type thing. Or, I don’t know, maybe it will be many, similar to the #metoo wave.
However it shows up, that feels like the theme, and it’s all related to us individually during this new moon because we’re establishing firm foundations around what we believe in, from a spiritual standpoint. It’s almost like, “This is my truth. This is what I’m carrying forward.” And that declaration allows the people on an individual level to be more discerning with where they seek their spiritual nurture. For current practitioners, it feels like a call: bring yourself into alignment. Bring yourself into authenticity. Deal with your shit… or else.
Now we know exactly who was in alignment and who wasn’t. The false prophets have been revealed, all thanks to QAnon.
I’ve already written extensively about the dangers (and narcissism) of pre-enlightened wellness influencers as well as spirituality for profit and both of those certainly play a heavy part in this. I didn’t think it was necessary to repeat it, but I will leave these posts here so that you can also read them:
Breaking the Recruitment Cycle
In the marketing, branding, and sales world, we have this concept called a sales funnel. The top of the sales funnel generates brand awareness. The channels that bring people into the top of this funnel are TV, news, and social media. Once someone is in the funnel, you then target them with more niche messaging (via email, follow-up ads, etc.), usually via some kind of storytelling that connects one of their needs/desires to your brand. This storytelling continues throughout the funnel until you finally drive them to the bottom where they commit and make a purchase or become a client.
As I’ve laid out in this post, spiritually unsound influencers and evangelists in the wellness community are serving as top-of-the-funnel recruiters into QAnon. The middle of that funnel serves to radicalize them, and at the bottom of that funnel is fascism, white supremacy, extremism, and acts of terrorism. We have a collective duty and a personal responsibility to get the misinformation in the spiritual community under control.
So, as a community, where do we go from here? How do we expel the darkness?
The good thing about spirituality is that there is no central governing authority to attempt to exhort control over everyone as a group, as with say the Catholic church. Spirituality places you as the central authority, by telling you to question everything, use your intuition, and take what resonates and leave the rest.
The bad thing about spirituality is that there is no central governing authority to control the people who are clearly out of control or suffering from mental illness from naming themselves a spiritual authority and doing harm to the people who come under their influence. At least churches have a hierarchy that’s supposed to address those things (though much of the time, they just cover it up…).
Since we have no centralized, singular authority or governing body, we’ll just have to work on our collective the same way we work on ourselves. Through shadow work–as a community.
We confront our darkness, we shine light on it, and we integrate it instead of looking the other way. The radicalization is already in progress, but we can start to counter it by becoming aware and evangelizing counter-messaging, and by shutting down those people at the top of the funnel doing the recruiting.
We confront and shine light on it by acknowledging the shit show that is the wellness industry and the role that it has played in facilitating the current state of America. We stop running away from conflict and pretending it isn’t there, even if it means calling someone out on their on their abusive shit (you can also just post my spiritual abuse article as a comment. *shrug*) – or calling someone in who just doesn’t know any better.
We hold ourselves (and each other) accountable: we speak up when we see someone abusing their power, we are careful of the people we support with likes, follows, and shares. If something feels off, it probably is. Do your own shadow work instead of your own research. Become trauma informed. Go deep with spiritual knowledge and integrate it before becoming an evangelist. Maintain skepticism! It’s healthy!
We integrate it by educating our community about the shadow of spirituality: the narcissistic cult leaders and their followers, the self-serving, for-profit wellness influencers, the mentally ill or ego maniacal psychics and channelers, the spiritual abuse tactics. All of it.
If you’re an influencer or practitioner of any kind, make it a point to consistently share educational information regularly and give it a platform. We cannot stay silent on this any longer. We have to make a declaration about what we stand for.
Share the shit out of information that can educate others about cult recruitment tactics, abuse and trauma, shadow work, spiritual abuse, and any other aspect of toxic spirituality.
The more aware we are of ourselves as a community, the less likely this stuff can continue to exist and spread to new people.
For those who may have already been recruited into the radicalization funnel, awareness of these tactics is likely not going to steer them away. By this time, it’s too late. If you have a close personal relationship with someone who has been recruited into QAnon (or some version of it), you’ll find some helpful tips in this interview with cult expert Steve Hassan.
Thanks for being here,
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