Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

Do We Really Have Free Will?

I‘ve never really bought into the concept that humans truly have free will, and there’s a variety of spiritually-based reasons for that, but one of the biggest reasons isn’t spiritual at all.

In order to have have free agency of our own will, we have to be a free thinker, and the truth is, very few of us actually are.

Humans, bizarre little ego-centric creatures that we are, believe that we have the freedom of choice in all that we do, as though we have total internal autonomy over what goes on inside our minds. And of course we would think that–we mistakenly believe that the rational mind is the king of our world.

Most of us spend very little time examining our motivations for the choices we make and the beliefs we hold, our biases, our fears, or put any kind of thought into how all of that unexamined subconscious shit informs our so-called rational choices.

Learn how to identify your belief systems

Reason vs. Logic

Humans are rational creatures, not logical creatures. Reason and logic are not the same thing.

All a rationale is, is an explanation about how you came to your conclusion. It doesn’t mean it’s the right conclusion, or that it’s a logical conclusion, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re being honest with yourself about your motivations, or that you understand the psychological factors that are driving your behavior.

People tell themselves all kinds of stories about why they do what they do. Many of them are lies.

True free will–and true free thinking–can only be found when we begin to uncover and understand our subconscious mind. Until then, we are susceptible to all kinds of bias, propaganda, and distorted belief systems.

As an acquaintance of mine on Instagram once wrote: if you’re not facing your shadow, you’re getting fucked by it. – @rainierwylde

Learn more about shadow work and it’s role in spirituality

PS – lots of you wanted me to open back up the question submission, so I’ve added that to the post footer. Can’t wait to see what your questions are!

Xo,

Ash

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Spirituality’s Relationship With Mental Illness

Spirituality’s Relationship With Mental Illness

Spirituality’s Relationship With Mental Illness

Spirituality and mental illness have a complex relationship. My goal today is to talk about mental illness within the spiritual community in a way that can help those of you reading this recognize just how pervasive it is in the spiritual community and help you identify spiritual people–psychics, channels, influencers, whomever–suffering from mental illness, all the while without stigmatizing it.

I’m going to rely a lot on personal experiences to try to demonstrate this, both my own as well as those of a friend with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder).

Mental illness encompasses a very wide variety of experiences that affect emotions, mood, thinking, or behavior, including common afflictions like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders to more severe ones that affect a person’s ability to accurately perceive and interpret reality to varying degrees, such as body dysmorphia or schizophrenia. Even drug addiction is considered a mental illness.

Mental illness is a lot more common than you might think, it’s just that a lot of people don’t talk about it because of the stigmas associated with it. There’s been a concerted effort in the last few years to destigmatize mental illness and create a more pervasive conversation around how common of an experience it is. It is estimated that 19% of adults in the US experience some type of mental illness in any given year. I have personally experienced disordered eating, body dysmorphia, PTSD/C-PTSD, anxiety, panic, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Mental illness doesn’t have to be something permanent. All of us experience emotional ills in the form of depression and anxiety from time to time, just like we might catch a cold every couple of years. Other mental health issues which are more long standing in nature, or which appear to be so deeply ingrained that they are almost a part of someone’s personality may be classified as some kind of disorder.

Spirituality and Mental Illness

In the mainstream, the same stigma applied to mental illness is often applied to spiritual experiences, both of which induce shame. There’s some merit to the idea that at least some aspect of some mental illness is more so a spiritual disease than a physical one–or that some things which are classified as symptoms of mental illness are actually spiritual in nature. The idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is a myth that was popularized by pharmaceutical companies to sell prescription antidepressants. In reality, psychiatry in general recognizes that disorders are not strictly chemical in nature, but are the result of a complex combination of physical, psychological, and social factors.

If you define spirituality the way that I do, as the intersection between science, psychology, and philosophy (which includes sociology), that means that mental illness does overlap with spirituality. The fact that social and psychological factors (i.e. trauma) are involved means that spirituality is part of a holistic approach to viewing mental illness. It also means that prescription drugs can be an effective and helpful aspect of treatment, when they are administered responsibly as part of a balanced approach.

Psychology only knows what something presents as on the outside. Psychology does not fully understand that different presentations of “symptoms” may have multiple causes, some of which may actually be completely normal manifestations of psychic activity rather than delusions brought on by mental illness. It’s a very complex subject and we have to use a great deal of discernment in our approach to undrestand our own experiences and those of others.

The problem is that we don’t necessarily have a balanced, holistic approach to mental health at the moment.

There’s a tendency toward over-medication on the clinical side that is a result of a culture that wants an easy way out in the form of a pill that will fix everything rather than addressing the personal, social, and cultural factors that largely contribute to trauma at the root of much mental illness.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s a lot of anti-science people in the spiritual community who view the pharmaceutical industry as evil, and by proxy, the doctors who prescribe them, and they completely dismiss the decades of scientific research behind drug discovery. In other words, they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Their real problem is with business practices in the pharmaceutical industry, not the science. Their problem is with unregulated capitalism, not science. Science’s only agenda is discovery.

That lack of distinction in the spiritual community not only leads to a lot of very harmful misinformation and propaganda during times of global health crises, but it also leads people who are experiencing mental health issues to believe that their experiences are actually (only) spiritual in nature, and thus, they don’t even recognize the need to seek professional help.

Narcissism and Spirituality

As I mentioned earlier, there are some forms of mental illness which affect a person’s ability to accurately perceive and interpret reality to varying degrees, and some of these mental illnesses cripple that individual’s ability to even recognize their own mental illness. Narcissism is one of those mental illnesses, and, along with sociopathy/psychopathy, is a mental illness that lends itself to a desire to hold power over others. Because of this, people with these kinds of mental illnesses are disproportionately attracted to positions of power.

For example, between .5% and 1% of the total population is estimated to have a narcissistic personality (of which 50% to 75% are male), however, various studies suggest that anywhere between 4% and 20% of people in leadership roles are narcissistic personalities, and that proportion may be on the higher end in areas where that leadership is self-appointed, such as with social media influencers.

Learn how to spot spiritual leaders with these kinds of personalities.

This doesn’t just apply to New Age spirituality, it also applies to religion. Prime example:

My dad exhibits signs of undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

In 2015 or so, he started saying really odd things. He first told me that he invented a generator that produced free energy. Then he told me how he was experimenting with growing plants by putting essential oils on them. Then he started texting me and telling me to take all of my money out of the bank and buy enough food to last for six months because Jesus was coming back in October and the stock market was going to crash and there was going to be martial law… (which is not unlike the doomsday fears of QAnon adherents after Biden’s inauguration).

 

Eventually he started his own church where he spoke in tongues and believed he had the power to cast demons out of people. Most of the congregation was made up of drug addicts and people who’ve been in and out of jail. In other words, vulnerable people looking for acceptance.

 

“God” told him that he was going to start a revival that would unite all church denominations and go on until the rapture came. He believes he has divine revelations that other people do not have access to.

 

Anybody who didn’t obey him, particularly if it was a woman, was “rebellious” and had a demon because “to follow the man is to follow god” and he would systematically begin to discredit them and attempt to turn others against them.

 

He believed that he had the ability to heal people, and told me how he healed a pastor from cancer.

 

Then he ambushed me in a public parking lot and attempted to cast a demon out of me… because I was getting a divorce. He was having an out-loud, two-way conversation with the “demon” that he believed had hold over me.

 

At the height of the pandemic in the spring, he started texting me (again) telling me how this was the end times and martial law was going to be declared. “Watch. I will be right.”

I’ve recounted in a couple of posts an encounter I had with a guy who exhibited similar behavior which you can read here. That actually occurred before everything went down with my dad, so I had a sense of what it was as it was happening.

Both of them are preying on people who are in vulnerable states by abusing their self-appointed spiritual authority, and this happens within the spiritual community frequently.

Learn how to spot spiritual abuse.

Aside from the two stories above, I’ve witnessed countless other examples of this kind of mental illness and spiritual abuse.

When I first began my spiritual path, I found a sense of community with a Facebook group built around another blogger who was writing and posting about channeling. Eventually, that blogger themselves demonstrated signs of mental illness and many many many people in the group (which was a few thousand people) did as well.

There were people in this group who believed they were being physically attacked at night by spirits. There were people who believed they were being sexually molested by spirits. There were people in the group who believed they were the reincarnation of religious and historical figures. There were people who believed that dead celebrities were their twin flames. There were several (I forget where the count ended, but I think it was somewhere around six at the time I left) women who believed that the spirit being channeled was their twin flame. Some of them posted regularly in the group about perceived sexual experiences they were having with said channeled entity, some of them went on to become alleged channelers themselves and pass along messages to other people in the group from this channeled entity, some of which included telling those people they were demonically possessed.

It was a very common occurrence for someone to come into the group completely green to psychic development and spirituality, and within a matter of weeks or just a couple of months, be giving people psychic readings and spiritual advice, without having any prolonged experience, integration, or any depth of shadow work. Many of them used their self-appointed positions of power to shame or dismiss people who disagreed with them. It’s my understanding that one of those people eventually went on to develop a large following and claimed she was impregnated by archangel Michael and gave birth to a spirit baby.

Learn what you must do before pursuing psychic development.

There were a number of people in the group who were there because they’d lost someone and were looking for answers about the afterlife, and their grief and desperation made many of them prime targets for manipulation by narcissistic personalities.

*** Trigger warning: the following discusses themes around depression and suicide.***

As a member of that group, I personally talked to at least five people who were contemplating suicide. More than a couple of members of that group eventually succeeded. One of them was a young kid, around 20 years old, who told me he’d been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He thought the government was tracking his movements and was suspicious of taking his medication.

He went on and on about things he’d read online, how he’d met his twin flame two weeks prior, and he knew it was his twin flame because he took an online quiz that said so, and it was crystal clear that he had absolutely no sense of discernment–he believed everything he read related to spirituality, word for word, and didn’t question any of it. I tried to convince him that it was okay to take his medication and that he should listen to his parents and doctor. The last time I talked to him, he told me “I’m getting off of this planet before it blows,” and deactivated his Facebook account. To this day, I don’t know if his parents had him committed or if he killed himself.

The problem with this group was that there were very few people in it who had any length of experience with spirituality or mental health. There was no one to ground the group or present alternative points of view–and many times, if an alternate point of view was presented, the group attacked that person–so people who were not familiar with how some forms of mental illness present had no handle bars, either, and were left up to their own devices to try to discern whether or not these people were the real deal. This left them incredibly vulnerable to misinformation, manipulation, and abuse.

Learn how discernment is is key for a grounded form of spirituality.

A number of those people had also experienced serious trauma, including sexual abuse. A lot of the spiritual concepts being talked about were over-simplified and positioned victims as being responsible for their abuse. I don’t need to tell any survivor just how damaging that is, but for those of you reading who do not understand trauma: survivors of abuse often already feel responsible for their abuse. They don’t need spiritual people telling them how they manifested it.

You’ll see a lot of information online that truly vilifies narcissists and sociopaths. In terms of those who’ve been abused by them, the feelings are certainly warranted and a part of the healing process. I would never, ever tell a victim of abuse that they have to forgive their abuser, that they shouldn’t judge their abuser, or that they need to have compassion for their abuser. That said, it is possible others who are not in that position to look at narcissism through a compassionate lens.

Not everyone with mental illness falls into this kind of delusion, but it’s tricky.

I don’t doubt that many of these people are having some spiritual experiences, because all of us do. The problem is not with their experience in and of itself, but rather, their ability to accurately interpret those experiences and discern between what is spiritual in nature and what is a result of the mental illness. The line between those things is not always clear cut.

I’m very happy to be able to give you some perspective on this nuance by including a Q&A from a friend of mine–who for the purposes of anonymity, were going to call Ocey–who is both a member of the spiritual community and someone who has been living with symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

What’s your spiritual practice and how you identify within that?

I’m a follower of Hekate. I see her as the manifestation of Source, of the divine consciousness that permeates all things. I’m also a traditional witch with my practice almost exclusively focusing on shadow and spirit work, as opposed to spell work.

My specific practices are always changing and evolving but I try to regularly spend time in study, in meditation, and creating some kind of art. Recently my practice has been focused on studying comparative mythology and sociology in a way to try to better understand the universe and my role in it.

What is it like living with DID?

I’m so nervous to even talk on the subject of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) because the community isn’t a forgiving one. There’s much debate about what qualifies as official DID and the legitimacy of a self-diagnosis, so I want to say up front I have not been officially diagnosed as DID, although that’s partly by choice, as my therapist has recognized it and is treating me for it. And technically I would be diagnosed as OSDD, Otherwise Specified Dissociative Disorder, which is a catch-all category of diagnosing for cases who don’t meet the exact criteria for DID.

Dissociative Identity Disorder use to be called ‘multiple personality disorder’ but the name was changed in 1994 to better describe the disorder. It’s not a personality disorder but a dissociative one caused by childhood trauma.

My DID is pretty subtle compared to other cases I’ve read and heard about. I basically experience my consciousness as being multiple. While there are “Others” inside my brain, they mostly feel like me, just “other me’s”. I’ve done a lot of work the past year to try to understand it all better and it’s felt like shadow work boot camp. But we [meaning all identities] are working on understanding triggers and what they mean to us as a single individual. I’m constantly working on ways to express all parts of myself and giving every side a voice, because it seems to be soothing of the symptoms which can range from black outs/missing time to complete breakdowns where I’ll experience paranoia and psychosis. It’s hard but I’m lucky to have a safe place at home and in therapy to try to work through it all. And I count myself lucky because like I said, DID is a spectrum and there are some who suffer from daily amnesia and depersonalization.

Back when you didn’t know you had DID, how did you interpret it through your spiritual lens?

My Others were always very real to me and because of the nature of it and because I was raised in a strict Christian household, I struggled with faith and spirituality my entire life.

Along with having these Others existing inside me, I’ve also experienced interactions with the spirit world my whole life. So before I was aware of the mental aspects of some of what was happening to me, I categorized it all as the same nature.. which was scary. I wasn’t able to separate or distinguish between hallucinations and apparitions, or paranoia and intuition. It was hard to decide what it was I actually believed because my experiences didn’t all make sense together.

When I first kind of put it together that DID is what I’ve been experiencing it was a huge shock. I had a little breakdown. But soon after a lot of things I’ve always struggled with started making sense. Before I had a name for what was happening, I knew there was something. I’ve spent almost the entirety of my adult life trying to understand myself.

It wasn’t until I was married for a few years and had settled down in life when things started becoming apparently amiss. I was realizing there would be huge gaps in the information I knew about myself and my life and gaps in memories, and mostly, my life felt as if I had just been dropped off there yesterday and often felt alien to me.

I was extremely paranoid and had psychosis symptoms, but refused to acknowledge them as anything but spiritual. But, I wasn’t always “myself” so spirituality wasn’t always a consistent part of my life. The fact that I couldn’t explain to myself why I’d go months, years, without having a spiritual care in the world and then suddenly feeling as if that’s all my life is about, really held me back spiritually. I thought I must just be wishy washy and not really care or believe. But the constant contact with spirits and the constant feeling of missing my life or feeling like I’m going through parts of it asleep, left me in a dark place.

I found witchcraft sometime around 2007 and paganism around 2012 and they both set me on a course of self discovery. My entire spiritual practice for the past almost 15 years has basically been just shadow work. And it has led me to where I am now.

And I’m still everyday carefully combing through my thoughts and experiences trying to make sure I categorize them appropriately, because while I believe mental health and spirituality are very closely linked there’s still a distinction and I try hard to make sure I’m making one consciously.

How did you reframe that perspective after you figured this was a mental health issue and how do you navigate your spiritual experiences now?

The hardest part of all of this has been trying to make a distinction between what’s spiritual and what’s mental. A lot of it is inseparable. The biggest way I’d say I’ve reframed my approach to both is I strive for perspective and verification. I realize now that I may have multiple perspectives on something and instead of making a decision or forming a belief based off only a part of how I feel, I make sure to take into account all sides of me. Even when it comes to how I practice my witchcraft and experiences that seem spiritual in nature, I have a process I go through to verify to myself how I should personally categorize it and if it deserves more attention, and the nature of attention I give to it. And I also have a couple trusted people that I share my experiences with and try to get outside perspective on their nature.

The biggest difference to how I go about my spirituality and life in general is now I have an understanding of how things in a person’s past can manifest themselves later in life.

I believe a person’s trauma can manifest in a damaging way if left untreated. I choose to view my situation through a spiritual lens to give me a framework of how to go about healing myself. I spend a lot of time fighting my own personal demons and am slowly working on recognizing, accepting, and healing old wounds.

A big change I’ve made to my spiritual practice after taking my mental health into account is how I apply it to the world and if/how to share that with others. I’ve come to learn that some things I experience are unique to me and cannot necessarily be applied to the collective reality. So I try to make sure I have more discernment with the things I share and how I share them, and am constantly questioning the decisions and opinions I make to make sure I understand where they’re coming from.

How has spirituality helped you understand your experiences from a mental health perspective?

When I first realized I had DID I lost all faith. I was devastated because I thought this meant that all of my experiences were nothing more than a fantasy created by a mental disorder. It shook me. I spent half a year just navigating that. Eventually I came to the conclusion, with the help of a very special part of me named Joan, that it was up to me how I decide to view this. I could choose to see only the medical/psychological side of it, renounce all my beliefs–or I could choose to also see the spiritual side. If anything, that short time when I lost faith in everything showed me how fulfilling and comforting a spiritual practice can be.

What’s some advice you’d give someone who might be struggling with something like this unknowingly?

My main advice to everyone is to recognize that mental health is just as important as spiritual and physical health. We live in a world now that offers us a lot of different approaches to life and our problems and I think the best way to go about it is to try to maintain a balance between science and spirituality. I think my spiritual practice is crucial in my healing but I also see the benefit and necessity of taking my meds and seeing my therapist regularly.

DID is tricky to notice even within yourself. The entire purpose of the disorder is to hide things from yourself as a survival mechanism. But it is typically known to start showing noticeable signs when you’ve reached a point in life where you’re “settled” and your psyche starts to feel like it’s a safe time to start unpacking all its baggage. My advice is if you have any doubts or questions about your experiences or sense of being, then reach out. Find a therapist who is open to your personal spiritual beliefs and find a support group of people who are having or had had similar experiences. Also shadow work is everything. I feel everyone, even those who may not be suffering from mental health issues can greatly benefit from it.

Scientific American: A new paper argues that DID may help us explain the nature of reality. 

I just have to say that I’m in such awe of how strong this woman is, and how she’s gone about handling this. I honestly started crying when I read her responses to my questions, because even though she’s having to work harder than the average human to navigate the world within her, she’s doing it with so much integrity.

We talked about how there is an opportunity here for her to share her experiences and help others who are struggling with these kinds of things and she said, “I hope to eventually be in a place where I can help others with stuff like this from what I’ve learned. But I want to make sure I’ve learned enough before I start really trying to help others.”

And that, my friends, is the balance that all of us need to strike.

Xo,

Ash

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Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

We already know how QAnon spread through the wellness industry, passed along by evangelical influencers indoctrinating widespread audiences as explained by this article in Cosmo, but a lot of people are still scratching their heads about why it spread the way it did. Several people have made comments on my social media posts recently that they just can’t wrap their heads around the connection between QAnon and spirituality.

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

Spiritual Newcomers

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.

Learn how to spot 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?

Learn how to spot toxic spiritual people.

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 (nevermind 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.

Learn about individualism and how it shows up in spirituality.

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. Does individualism turn people into narcissists, or do narcissists gravitate to individualistic values? Probably mostly the latter, though cultural conditioning almost certainly plays a part.

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 aren’t able to imagine what it might feel like to be someone else, and as such, don’t have compassion for their fellow man, or feel any sense of social responsibility. The ones who can muster at least some empathy are only able to do so within their inner circle: close friends, family, neighbors. They don’t have the same capacity to empathize with strangers. In other words, they can 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 haven’t engaged in the necessary shadow work to heal their wounds.

Learn how to spot narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

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 narcissism as a result of attachment wounds is the root of white supremacy. Certainly racism requires a fundamental lack of empathy, which can be present due to narcissism, toxic masculinity, or both.

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.

False Intuition

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).

Here’s why:

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 abstract thought. They can’t seem to get beyond the details of the conspiracy narrative and see the real big picture (great video about abstract vs. narrow thought here).

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.

Learn how apophenia plays into QAnon’s alternate reality.

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.

Learn more about how mental illness shows up in the spiritual community.

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.

This New York Times article gives some specific examples of these things. 

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, 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:

Materialistic Spirituality
How to spot a spiritually immature wellness influencer

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.

This is the same formula used by terrorist organizations and cults to recruit members.

Learn the tactics white supremacists intend to use to recruit disaffected Trump Supporters.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone has heard of call out culture, and you’re probably aware of the backlash and counter movement of “calling in”…

Posted by In My Sacred Space on Saturday, January 16, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

I also HIGHLY recommend reading this Vanity Fair interview.

Xo,

Ash

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Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

The Shadow of Spirituality

The Shadow of Spirituality

Now that adherents of Qanon have stormed the Capitol building and four people are dead…(my former yoga teacher, who fancies himself a Q influencer and “spiritual AF” was there), where do we, as a spiritual community, go from here?

Is spirituality going to be so tainted by association to conspiracy theories that people turn away? Or will the rest of us finally start to speak louder than the noise?

I talked about this with friends privately early on in the year. I pointed out that Q was recruiting and radicalizing in the same way as a terrorist organization and I had a really awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had an inkling of it when my step daughter was threatened by one of her own family members on social media with, “bow down to Trump or be killed.” When some guy ran a train off the rails in California in an attempt to smash the navy hospital ship back in the spring, I knew we couldn’t keep sitting on it and saying nothing.

I watched the media sit on it though, and then ridicule it, and then slowly, but far too late, finally become alarmed by it. I watched spirituality and wellness influencers stay silent, or worse, perpetuate it, until some of them finally came out and made a statement. For a while there I felt a bit like Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling and no one was paying attention. Well, they are now. But they had to be pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and pushed until the monster that was created was too big to be put back in its cage.

The backlash from these events is likely going to be mighty in a variety of ways, but I am right now mostly concerned with the lane we are in, which is spirituality and wellness. Or should I say unwellness, because that’s what this obsession with Q is tantamount to.

It’s hard for me to blame (some of) the mob–you know, the subset that aren’t white supremacists wearing Camp Auschwitz hoodies or waving confederate flags–when I know that they’ve been gaslit by an overt narcissist for the last four years and by Fox News for far longer than that. You reap what you sow, and a certain handful of elected officials had to lay in the bed they made for themselves. I don’t think they liked it very much.

I don’t have a patriotic bone in my body, I couldn’t give two shits about American pride. What I do care about–what I hold sacred–is spirituality. And just like every cult and charlatan that has exploited the spiritually vulnerable, Qanon is a dark stain on the fabric of “love and light.”

But I am angry. Righteously angry. Mostly with the “influencers” in the wellness community who have enabled this with their silence or otherwise perpetuated it with their blind nationalism and blatant disregard for the spiritual principles they purport to uphold. They are hypocrites, and in an ironic twist of fate, also the very herd (nae, cult) of sheep that they pride themselves in being apart from.

Qanon has risen up to embody every single element of spirituality’s shadow, and holy shit is it ugly.

As members of the spiritual community, not only do we have a responsibility to ourselves to do our own shadow work, we have a responsibility to expose the shadow of our collective, and right now, today, that means all of the conspirituality bullshit, the anti-science attitudes, the whitewashing of spirituality, the exploitation of trauma for profit, the mental illness, the spiritual bypassing and gaslighting, the cults, the sexual harassment, the bullshit psychics and channelers who are doing nothing but operating from their inflated ego, ALL OF IT.

I don’t know how anyone can call themselves an intuitive or claim to be energetically sensitive and not feel how twisted and off the energy of the Qanon collective is.

Anyone who has not been actively educating themselves about or addressing these issues within the spiritual community is partially responsible for the culture that lead to what happened at the U.S. Capitol and is still happening online right now. And I include myself in that because I didn’t start speaking up about it loudly enough until a couple of years ago.

The people involved with these events will experience the consequences for their actions in the coming weeks and months, but this is a wake up call to America, and also, especially to the spiritual community, and it is a mirror of who we are as a collective right now.

The people who did this, and those who enabled the spread of this conspiracy cult–that is the dark side of spirituality. It is what manifests when you bury your head in love and light.

What’s important for us now, as a community of alleged lightworkers, is to walk our fucking talk and make ourselves accountable for ensuring that this never happens again.

That means doing our own shadow work. That means educating ourselves about the shadow side of spirituality. That means truly…TRULY… doing the very thing that we always say we’re proud to do, which is looking within and doing the work.

When I sent this message out via email, I immediately had multiple people respond with, “What about Black Lives Matter and Antifa?” and “Not everybody who opposes electoral fraud is a Q follower.” Diverging from the point and deflecting the conversation is an avoidance mechanism, so let me bring the conversation back to where it belongs:

 

What does Black Lives Matter and Antifa have to do with spiritual people spreading conspiracy theories and perpetrating acts of terrorism? Black Lives Matter and antifa aren’t running around fawning over a narcissist, praying for secret arrests and executions without a fair trial, living in a conspiratorial delusion, and attempting to overthrow the entire fucking system of democracy–in other words, exhibiting incredibly spiritually unwell behaviors that our out of integrity with spiritual values while simultaneously claiming to be spiritually enlightened.

 

Do you get it now? The problem is the climate that promoted these actions and that it’s being done in the name of spirituality by people who claim to be promoting “consciousness” when there’s nothing conscious about it. It’s not only about the boots on the ground. Black Lives Matter and Antifa did not create a culture of spiritual bypassing so profound that its led millions of people into a total delusional divergence from reality. 

 

Furthermore, I’m white. Black people aren’t my community. I have no right to critique the (perceived) actions of an oppressed people that I do not belong to, particularly when I am a member of the group that has oppressed them. I’m not a member of Antifa, either. I don’t have an audience with those people. But I am a member of the spiritual community, and when I see a culture of hypocrisy in my own community, you’d better fucking believe I’m going to say something. 

 

With regard to the second point, I don’t think everyone who opposes electoral fraud is a Q follower. I do think the people wearing Q t-shirts and hats and walking around with Q signs inside the Capitol building are Q followers, as well as Jake Angeli, the guy wearing the buffalo hat who’s face is literally everywhere, or the “Q Shaman” as the media is calling him since he gave a televised interview in 2019 proclaiming himself so.

 

But that’s also beside the point. The point is that the spiritual community has enabled and allowed the rapid spread of a conspiracy narrative that eventually made its way to the mouth of the president of the United States, creating a cycle of disinformation that feeds into itself. Whether or not people there protesting voter fraud were Q followers is irrelevant since the entirety of the voter fraud narrative was spurred by Q. They’ve been manipulated (or as some would call it, “mind controlled”) whether they are aware of it or not.

 

The wellness and spiritual communities gave Q its mainstream power, Q then generated an election fraud narrative which led to those events, which means the wellness community is partially accountable for those events.

Let me be clear. Conspiracy theories existed in the spiritual community long before Q. Most of the theories promulgated by Q have actually been around in the spiritual community for years. The Q “phenomenon” enabled those narratives to be woven together and mainstreamed, creating one giant massive conspiracy narrative. (I highly recommend reading that last link on a game designer’s analysis of Qanon)

I’ve always said that you can count on me to be the asshole that tells you need to hear and not what you want to hear. And if any part of what I just said makes anyone reading this feel defensive, then you’ve got some work to do. I challenge you to sit with your uncomfortable emotions, and instead of projecting, dismissing, and bypassing, DO THE WORK.

I intend to do everything in my power to create the educational resources necessary for this process and to make the connections between what we do spiritually, as a community, and how it affects the world around us. I hope you’ll do your part by learning and sharing.

Xo,

Ash

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The Shadow Self and Shadow Work’s Role In Spirituality

The Shadow Self and Shadow Work’s Role In Spirituality

The Shadow Self and Shadow Work’s Role In Spirituality

The shadow self and shadow work maybe concepts you’ve stumbled across during the course of your spiritual journey. Shadow work is the entire realm of healing that every person must engage with in order to “ascend” or pursue enlightenment to any degree, and there’s a massive overlap with psychology and trauma that I think often gets overlooked by the spiritual community, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

We live in a society that is so mentally and emotionally unwell that we are exposed to a covert undercurrent of micro-traumas almost daily. Sexism and sexual harassment are traumatic. Racism is traumatic. Anti-LGBTQ attitudes are traumatic. These are covert societal traumas that are inflicted upon social groups over generations. These kinds of abuses and microaggressions can become so systemically “normalized” and occur so subtly that some people who experience them end up internalizing them and may not even recognize the abuse when it occurs.

Then there’s overt societal traumas: Genocide, war, and the displacement of people that occurs because of them, as well as poverty and the displacement of people that occurs because of it, like gentrification and homelessness. Terrorism and hate crimes are also a part of this.

Then we have social traumas: being bullied for your weight, intellect, physical appearance, religious beliefs, disabilities, or any other factor that makes you physically, neurologically, or ideologically different.

You can think of all of these things as the collective “karma” that we, as a society, have created here on earth throughout our history.

And then we have the traumas that are passed down to us through our families–generational trauma, or as some in the spiritual community refer to it, ancestral karma, generational karma, generational/ancestral curses: sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, narcissistic abuse, mother wounds, father wounds, etc. These are the traumas that when viewed from the outside, we can mostly agree are problems, but they are difficult for us to recognize in ourselves. Particularly in cases of emotional and narcissistic abuse, most of us never had another familial experience to compare it to, so we assumed our parents behavior was normal, and thus, never recognized the abuse, and because we never recognized the abuse, we never dealt with it.

Throughout our lives, as we are bombarded with all manner of abuses and exposed to innumerable traumas great and small, we learn strategies to survive and feel safe. Many of the coping mechanisms which we develop to keep ourselves safe in these toxic situations in our formative years prevent us from having healthy relationships and healthy lives in adulthood. In the case of societal abuses, we are being re-traumatized every time we experience one.

For many of us, this initial traumatic “programming” as you could call it, makes us more susceptible to abuse and trauma later in life, because it instills subconscious fear-based beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

All of these coping mechanisms–and the emotional scars that they are trying protect us from re-experiencing–are lodged deep in our subconscious psyche: our shadow.

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to:

(1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative, or…

(2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem).

The shadow is where all of our unconscious habits, patterns, addictions, subconscious beliefs, and traumas lie. It’s the emotional bruises we’ve sustained that are so painful, we tucked them away and never looked at them. And when we haven’t dealt with those emotional scars, they bubble up from within the shadow as depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, rage, narcissism, abusive behavior, projection, dissociation, an inability to form secure attachments and healthy relationships, addiction, codependency, and so on and so forth.

A lot of people never make the connection between being abused and developing mental illness.

These are all trauma responses or destructive coping mechanisms we created to help us deal with (or not deal with) our emotions. This is the shadow made manifest, and what many spiritual people label as the ego.

(Note: What most spiritual people label as the ego is not the same as the definition of the ego in psychology, which is defined as the totality of our conscious self, or our identity. Thus, our ego–or identity–can never be truly killed or destroyed, merely transformed. To have no ego would be to cease being human.)

Learn more about the purpose of the ego.

Furthermore, when it comes to relationships, that subconscious programming in our minds (and souls) continuously attracts us to similar behavioral patterns, emotions, and energy throughout the rest of our lives because we’ve learned that this is what love looks like and it becomes what we’re attracted to in others. Because we’ve also normalized abusive behavior, we don’t have healthy boundaries and can’t identify red flags. That looks like experiencing repeating patterns of the same relationship issues no matter who you’re with, the same toxic work environments no matter where you go, and meeting the same kind of toxic people over and over (some might call this the Law of Attraction). The incidents mirror or recreate the original trauma, but they also present an opportunity for that trauma to be processed and healed.

READ: Your fear, anxiety, depression, and other self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors are caused by unhealed trauma, and that trauma, when allowed to run rampant in society over generations, has created the world we live in.

When we create beliefs around these trauma responses and coping mechanisms, and then create social norms, and governing policies around those beliefs, we then manifest that shadow into the world around us.

“Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality. Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits. Trauma decontexualized in a society looks like culture.” –Resmaa Menakem, trauma expert

You’ll find a lot of spiritual teachings that discuss acknowledging the shadow self and and learning to acknowledge it and integrate it. Through this process of acknowledgement, we recognize our traumas and the behavioral patterns that have resulted from them. Through that acknowledgement and the subsequent practices of reclaiming our power away from that trauma, we integrate it. When we acknowledge that all of our emotions are okay, even the negative ones, we integrate pieces of our shadow, and recognize ourselves as a whole person again. As we heal, we step into our power, and into alignment with our higher self and our higher purpose. We “ascend.”

Learn more about ascension.

It’s also important to note, once again, that the shadow isn’t only negative. It also includes positive aspects of yourself that you aren’t able to consciously see because of all of the beliefs we’ve created around our abuse and trauma. For example, someone who has been emotionally abused may believe that they aren’t worthy of love. Their inherent worthiness and goodness is trapped in their psychological shadow, where they can’t consciously access it. Only through shadow work can they excavate their self-worth–usually by sifting through some of the heavier emotions around traumatic experiences that it’s buried under and working to release them.

Shadow work isn’t only a mental and emotional exercise. Trauma is what creates emotional blockages in our energy bodies and our physical bodies, and that stagnant energy contributes to our inability to process the trauma and keeps us stuck in our repeating patterns. Utilizing various types of energy work like reiki, crystal healing, acupuncture, or physical movement therapies like somatic therapy, yoga, and dance can help re-align the emotional and physical bodies with the mind, and shake loose stagnant energy that can then be processed through more traditional types of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-informed talk therapy, etc.

Our shadow is not something to be destroyed, it’s something to be explored. Through that exploration, we discover ourselves, and by discovering ourselves, we are able to become more conscious of who we are, and live with more awareness, both of ourselves, and how we contribute to the co-creation of the world around us.

Xo,

Ash

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The Divine Feminist

The Divine Feminist

The Divine Feminist

I was lazing around the house the other day when I had a highdea–more like an epiphany, actually.

A lot of what I’ve been writing about for the last three years is feminism, but through a spiritual lens. I’ve always associated third wave feminism with the rise of the Divine Feminine, but through that lens, I’ve seen feminism as not just a movement for women, but a movement for everyone.

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

Learn about the Divine Feminine.

The Divine Feminine is our emotions, our empathy, our intuition, our pleasure, and our connection to the divine in ourselves and the universe. 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 persecuted, condemned, suppressed, and ridiculed, 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 abuse, violence and oppression, whether overt and obvious or subtle and insidious, as a means to control and dominate others (slipping into their toxic masculine energy).

When we talk about the rise of the Divine Feminine, we aren’t only 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.

Divine Feminism

Divine Feminism is the intersection between the Divine Feminine and feminism.

Divine Feminism recognizes the feminine in all of us. It doesn’t expect women OR MEN to disregard their femininity as a means to obtain power in a patriarchal society. It celebrates femininity and recognizes its value.

Divine Feminism doesn’t expect or encourage women OR MEN to embody patriarchal ideals or gender roles.

Divine Feminism is anti-toxic-masculinity, whether it shows up in men or women or someone who identifies as neither. It recognizes the importance of a healthy inner-masculine.

Learn about the Divine Masculine.

As such, Divine Feminism values critical thinking, integrity, and leadership just as much as it values vulnerability and openess.

The Divine Feminist is a self-contained human being.

Xo,

Ash

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