The Shadow of Spirituality

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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Abuse and The Law of Attraction

Abuse and The Law of Attraction

Abuse and The Law of Attraction

For a community that is supposed to be focused on love, light, and healing, New Agers have invented and contributed to some of the most toxic, harmful, bullshit ideologies on the planet, and nine times out of ten, the Law of Attraction is behind it.

One of those toxic ideologies is that people manifest their own abusive experiences through Law of Attraction, including children. I’ve written previously about the topic of manifesting abusive experiences, but I didn’t go in-depth on the Law of Attraction in that post, which I will do today.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: No. Unequivocally, children do not manifest their own abuse through Law of Attraction.

What Law of Attraction zealots want you to believe, particularly those who are making money from coaching people to manifest the life of their dreams, is that you are the all powerful, absolute creator of the totality of your experience, the God of your own world, and you can have absolutely anything your heart desires–all you have to do to harness this power is think positive thoughts and set an intention about what you want, and the Universal vending machine will deliver it up to you on a silver platter!

It’s bullshit.

Try manifesting a physical living breathing unicorn in your back yard using that ideology and let me know how it goes.

This line of thinking is actually a form of separation consciousness because it downplays, ignores, or outright denies the interconnected nature of our human experiences. Yes, you are a creative being and you have the ability to shape the world around you, but it is not as simplistic as these opportunistic gurus would have you believe.

I’m going to return to the book that I refer to as my bible today, Conversations with God.

Thought + Word + Deed = Manifestation

There’s a reason that magick involves intentions, incantations, and rituals. They are the thoughts, the words, and the actions to bring one’s vision to life.

And not just any ole thoughts…the sponsoring thought.

What is a sponsoring thought? The sponsoring thought is your deeply held beliefs about yourself and the world around you, much of which exists on a subconscious level until you engage in the appropriate amount of shadow work to uncover them. Until that point, you’re manifesting from your trauma, your wounds, and your self-limitations rather than fully-embodied consciousness.

Learn about shadow work’s role in spirituality.

Chances are, the shit you’re trying to manifest if you haven’t done this work is going to be materialistic and egoic and end up causing more harm than good.

Another famous line from Conversations with God:

 

“My will is your will, but your will is not my will.”

What that means is, God wants you to be the creator, and that entails having the free will to do what thou wilt, even if it isn’t in alignment with the highest good, however, what God wills for you is that you rise to your highest potential. Once your will is in alignment with God’s will, you have become the creator.

In simpler terms, once you’ve done the work, your idea about what might make you happy and the things that you desire will be on much healthier footing, and you’ll be able to manifest them a lot easier because they will be in alignment with your higher consciousness, not your lower desires, which typically end up creating nasty karmic consequences–the old “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” Watch Wonder Woman 1984 for a general idea of how well that might go…

This is precisely why a lot of the better spiritual teachers out there will tell you that attempting to manifest anything is a useless endeavor until you’ve done the work, and why some witches abide by the three-fold rule (whatever you do comes back to you three fold). It’s why the ancient mystery schools had initiation processes, and its why most orders still do today (If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend listening to this podcast interview with Damien Echols), and the ones who are trash are just reinforcing toxic positivity, spiritual bypassing, and rampant materialism.

So no, your passing thoughts and random fears are not going to literally manifest if you think about them for two seconds. Or even an hour. It is likely, however, that a great deal of your thoughts and fears are a part of some greater subconscious belief system or attitude which you are helping to perpetuate (and thus, manifest) into the world around you.

The Secret: Prosperity Gospel for the New Age

It’s a much better marketing gimmick if the charlatans can convince you that you’re the singular God of your own universe instead of a part of a divine global collective of interconnected beings co-creating together. It’s the influence of western cultural values that prize individualism above community, domination over cooperation, manifest destiny, and so on. As I mentioned earlier, this is a form of separation consciousness and an avenue to avoid social responsibility. Toss in a heavy dose of capitalism and materialism and you have Americanized spirituality.

But these overly-simplified ideas about Law of Attraction gloss over this important fact: we are not individually the only creator on this planet. We live in a co-created world with other people who are endowed with the same creative potential that we are, and we’re all co-creating our existence every single day, with every conscious or subconscious belief we have that influences our thoughts and attitudes, which in turn influence the words we speak and the actions we take. Our actions directly affect other people in the world around us. That’s precisely how we’ve manifested the world we live in today…and what a spectacular shit show!

Wait–are we responsible for this mess?!

Collectively, yes. Humanity as a whole, throughout time, created this world and all of the fear and trauma and oppression that exists within it evolved out of the unhealed wounds and the unconscious actions perpetrated from those wounds.

On an individual level, we perpetuate that trauma by manifesting–through actions, cause, and effect–from our unconscious belief systems built upon unhealed wounds–or, we heal it by expanding our conscious awareness of ourselves, eliminating destructive belief systems, choosing constructive actions, and taking responsibility for ourselves and the creative role we have in the world around us.

Child Abuse and Ancestral Karma

In a previous post on this topic I wrote:

A child’s first experience with abuse can never be the result of their own thoughts because the experience has never entered into their awareness. Especially when we are children, we haven’t yet fully developed a sense of self–our brains don’t even finish forming until we’re 25–and we are at the mercy of the adult/child power dynamic. Therefore, any abuse perpetrated on a child by an adult can never be the result of Law of Attraction.

Children don’t have the luxury of making their own decisions or truly thinking for themselves. They don’t manifest abuse, because abuse is karmic.

Remember this: karma trumps Law of Attraction every time.

When I say karmic, I don’t mean the notion that karma is some kind of punishment for past (life) transgressions. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people?” All of that stuff I just talked about–manifesting from unhealed wounds? The consequences of the “manifesting” we do (a.k.a. the actions we take) from unhealed wounds is our karmic contribution to the collective. Karma is the energetic legacy we leave behind us. It stays here on the planet and affects those who come after us.

Ancestral karma is when that energy is passed down through generations of a family lineage. Child abuse is ancestral karma: a learned pattern from the previous generation inflicted upon the next.

Children come into this world as a blank slate, with no deeply held belief systems. Our parents are the only reference we have for what the world means for the first several years of our existence. We are completely at the mercy of these people’s actions. They have ultimate authority and power over us, and because we need to survive above all else, that means attempting to bond with the people we are dependent upon for survival.

We have no real choice about what to think or believe at this stage of our lives. Abusive adults wield this power dynamic in unhealthy ways, causing trauma. That trauma, when left unhealed in an adult, manifests as more unhealthy power dynamics, abusive behaviors, and/or destructive coping mechanisms, inflicting more trauma onto their children, and so the cycle goes.

You were never responsible for what happened to you when you were too young to think for yourself, and you did not manifest it. Those experiences were inflicted upon you by an adult who held power over you.

So What About Now?

Law of Attraction advocates tout that you attract to you everything that you experience, like metal to a magnet. What if it’s the other way around? What if you’re not the magnet… but the metal? At least for as long as you exist in an unconscious stage of manifestation?

Let’s take relationships, for example: we’re often attracted to people who exhibit the same toxic or abusive behavioral patterns as our parents did.

Those who grew up in a household with an abusive parent or had an otherwise chaotic childhood learned from those experiences that this is what love looks and feels like. And that’s not their fault–it’s the only thing they’ve ever been exposed to. They subconsciously recognize and associate that chaotic feeling with love, and that’s what they are attracted to in potential partners. They probably walk past healthy potential partners all day long and never give them a second glance, or if they do, their coping mechanisms cause the relationship to self-destruct before it ever gets off the ground (ask me how I know…).

It’s not that you’re manifesting abusive experiences for yourself, it’s that you’re responding to your subconscious childhood programming–until you become aware of the patterns.

When we heal the patterns, we become the magnet instead of the metal. We can begin to discard old beliefs, recognize our patterns, heal our trauma, shift our perspectives and attitudes, and take actions that have healthier consequences–both for ourselves and everyone that we are connected to here on earth. We become a conscious co-creator of our collective reality. We liberate ourselves, and each other.

 

The Shadow of Spirituality

5 Toxic People To Avoid On Your Spiritual Journey

5 Toxic People To Avoid On Your Spiritual Journey

As I watch the world around me, I recognize that more and more people are beginning to experience the early stages of spiritual awakening. Last week, I re-published a post that I wrote six years ago about the phases of spiritual awakening and if you’ve read it, I think you’ll agree that many many people in 2020 are experiencing the earliest stages. Those who are in this pre-enlightenment stage of spirituality are in a vulnerable place in their journey and being that there are so many of them, it puts us in a precarious and vulnerable situation as a collective.

Today I wanted to delve more in-depth into some of the pitfalls of those phases that I touched upon in that post in an effort to help those of you who are new to this journey navigate some of the murkier waters of spirituality that I’ve encountered over the last 10 years, specifically the most toxic people you’ll meet on this journey who can and will do you and the collective harm.

The Egoic Psychic

Many years ago, my psychic development teacher told our class, “Just because someone is psychic does not mean they are spiritual.” Indeed, there are many psychics, healers, and channelers out there who operate within fear-based, dualistic belief systems. Some use their metaphysical abilities to feed their own ego rather than engage in the shadow work necessary to make themselves a clear channel, and still others are simply scam artists passing themselves off as spiritual practitioners.

How to recognize them: These people are pretty easy to spot. They’ll come at you and attempt to position themselves as “more enlightened than thou” because they are psychic and can speak to the dead, channel the Galactic Federation of Light, or whomever they are claiming to be their connection to Truth in an attempt to hold power over you.

They make bold and wild claims like being the earthly incarnation of a famous historical figure or esoteric entity, or that they are in a special relationship with one. They may claim to be in contact with dead celebrities, or the “chosen channel” for some bygone demigod (Jesus or Mary Magdalene for example), or some other metaphysical status which feeds their ego and sets them apart from the regular humans. They are “special” and they want you to know it. The more fear-based ones may claim that you have negative entity attachments, curses, or are otherwise under psychic attack from some invisible force that only they can see, and therefore, only they can help you. You’re not allowed to question them, and they’re always going to demand something from you, whether it’s admiration and attention or money.

Many famous psychics have made famously wrong predictions, Sylvia Brown to name one. I’ve personally encountered or heard stories of psychics and mediums claiming to be in intimate relationships with dead celebrities, impregnated by Archangel Michael, telling people they are demonically possessed, and even making very wrong predictions about people’s family members dying. And of course there’s also tales of psychics offering to lift imaginary curses off of you for the low low price of $400 or more.

Why you’re vulnerable: Early on in your spiritual journey, as you begin to explore new concepts and ideas, you have a more open mind and are willing to consider ideas and information that you may have previously dismissed. When you’re in this questioning stage, you don’t yet have a strong connection to your own intuition or your own direct line to Truth, so you’re more willing to get that Truth from other, outside sources, and not all of these sources are credible. People think that just because these people have psychic abilities that their every prediction is accurate, or that how they are interpreting it is correct without taking into consideration that they have their own mental health issues and untreated spiritual dis-ease that may contribute to taking their readings off the rails. Maintaining a healthy amount of skepticism about the information people try to feed you is imperative as well as learning to recognize egotism when you see it.

Learn how to discern mental illness from spiritual experiences.

The Sexual (Predator) Healer

When we reach a stage of our spiritual journey where we’re beginning to examine our own shadow, we’re often faced with a multitude of personal crises that leave us emotionally raw and seeking healing. Kindness and compassion are something we gravitate toward as we look for trustworthy people to hold space for us as we heal, but there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there parading around as healers, particularly of a sexual nature. I’ve come across multiple male energy healers who attempt to capitalize on emotional vulnerability as an avenue for crossing sexual boundaries, and it’s also rampant in the astrology community.

How to recognize them: These people come in a variety of costumes. Some pose as tantric healers who “use sexual energy” to help you heal. Sexual energy can be healing when you’re with a partner whom you know well and have a deep sense of trust with, but NO SPIRITUAL PRACTITIONER IS EVER GOING TO ATTEMPT TO HAVE CASUAL SEX WITH YOU TO HEAL YOU. None. Ever. Fucking throw that concept out the god damn window.

True story: I used to see profiles on dating apps of male “reiki” practitioners looking for casual sex claiming they had the ability to heal women through sex. Nothing has ever turned my stomach more.

Others will be far more subtle. They may offer you “free” energy work, but eventually begin to introduce sexual micro-aggressions. This is how a predator tests your boundaries for vulnerabilities to see if they can escalate the relationship into something more sexual. Exercise extreme caution when accepting free energy work from anyone that you don’t know well. A true healer will ALWAYS respect your boundaries and NEVER do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. If the thought that this person has crossed a line even remotely enters your awareness, or you feel even mildly uncomfortable with their behavior, THAT MEANS A BOUNDARY HAS BEEN CROSSED. Don’t ignore it. Always say something and cut off contact.

John of God is a famous Brazilian “healer” who amassed hundreds of thousands of followers all over the world. He reached a level of international new age fame, including being featured by Oprah. He was also jailed in 2019 for raping over 300 women, including his own daughter.

Why you’re vulnerable: If you have a prior history of sexual or emotional abuse, you are particularly vulnerable to this, because your nervous system does not easily recognize these kinds of boundary violations (because it’s used to being violated). If you have a history of abuse of any kind, I urge you to seek out trauma-informed practitioners rather than accepting free services from seemingly good samaritans–particularly if they are of the opposite sex. And look for any and all resources about how to recognize and set strong boundaries.

The Dilettante Coach/Influencer

In the excitement of the pre-enlightenment phases of awakening, many people who are early in their spiritual journey jump into the evangelism phase with gusto, becoming spiritual social media influencers and even offering coaching services or readings of some kind. The problem is that they’ve not yet engaged on their own shadow work and as such, are only able to guide people from the shallow depths of the work that they’ve done. In many cases, these people are not at all trauma-informed and still greatly unaware of their own issues, and when they set out to start helping others, they end up projecting their own issues onto their clients and doing more harm than good. It’s the blind leading the blind.

How to recognize them: These people tend to talk about having had a “sudden awakening” where they saw the Truth of the universe, and then almost immediately afterward, set out to become a spiritual coach or teacher (or psychic or medium). They’ve also often rapidly accumulated a social media following.

They are demonstrating what psychologists refer to as the Dunning-Kruger effect, where amateurs tend to be over-confident (and experts tend to be underconfident). But having an intellectual or conceptual understanding of spirituality is merely scratching the surface, and until one does the necessary shadow work required to fully embody and integrate that knowledge through experience, they will often engage in spiritual bypassing and share information that lacks a depth of understanding required to be a spiritual teacher. But that doesn’t matter to them, because this kind of behavior is more about financial success and internet fame/notoriety than it is about mission and responsibility.

They’ll often become defensive, block you for some “spiritual” reason, or try to use their spiritual terminology to gaslight you after you question them, or they’ll sick their army of social media followers and influencer friends on you if you for disagreeing with them. A lot of them charge an absurd amount of money to work with them and operate like a business, not a teacher.

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

 

As a women’s coach and a healer in a country where one out of every five women has been sexually assaulted, she has a responsibility to her audience and her paying clients to educate herself about women’s issues, and to be responsible with what she says in that regard.

 

Anyone who is even remotely trauma-informed, has a background in psychology, or is simply educated about rape culture knows how much shame and guilt rape victims deal with. For one of them to then go online and see a person in a position of alleged authority effectively validate their worst fear–that what someone else did to them was their fault–is incredibly harmful, and extremely ignorant on behalf of this “coach” who has claimed that she is here to heal people. Her careless victim shaming can lead someone into a shame spiral that ends in suicide.

 

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

Even people who seem like they should have a better grasp on how their actions as a wellness influencer affect their followers such as the Holistic Psychologist and Mastin Kipp have recently been outed as having little to no self-awareness about issues involving anti-racism with their dealings with the Black community. And hey, in 2020, literally no one is perfect, but as a spiritual practitioner, if you can’t self-reflect deeply enough to see your own bias even when people are pointing it out for you or at least commit to making an attempt, then what are you doing trying to lead others in self-reflection?

Why you’re vulnerable: Humans are primed to look for social proof that someone is an expert. Using the right terminology and having a massive number of followers gives the appearance of depth. These people have pretty, professional photos and great brand messaging. They look credible, and other apparently credible people are talking about them, so why shouldn’t they be credible? But in this day and age, social media followers can be bought, being connected to the right people–even if you don’t really know what you’re talking about–can expand fan bases, and paying boatloads of money for professional graphics, photos, and meaningless online course certifications can give anyone the facade of being a professional without actually having the life experience and spiritual depth to back it up.

Learn how to spot a spiritually immature influencer.

The Cult Leader

There’s been a lot of new age cults in the news lately, including NXIVM sex-cult leader Ken Raniere. Upon first glance, it’s difficult to understand how seemingly good people are recruited into such wildly abusive lifestyles, but when you understand that cults prey on vulnerable people, it becomes apparent that those who fall into these traps are often seeking acceptance from a community and have a history of abuse which renders them nearly incapable of recognizing proper boundaries.

How to recognize them: These people, like many of the others on the list, are simply narcissistic personalities masquerading in spiritual garb. They target vulnerable people who are seeking to be loved and start out by love-bombing them with validation and telling them why they’re special in order to get them hooked and if they’re charismatic enough, it will work. Then, once they have them, they slowly begin to chip away at their already fragile self esteem through manipulation, gaslighting, condescension, and other subtle yet gradually escalating abuses until one day, the abuse reaches staggering proportions (in the case of NXIVM, it was BDSM and fire-branded initials) and the victim is so mind-fucked they don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

Many cult leaders isolate their flock and erode their trust in outside information, positioning themselves as the only source of “Truth.” They’ll gaslight their members to the point that they can’t recognize up from down and staggering self-doubt is enough to keep them hanging around.

True story: I once had a guy online try to convince me that I was one of only 18 Pleiadian hybrid “messiahs” incarnated on earth at this time to save the planet and he had developed a system to identify and prove who was one (i.e. you’re special… only I can show you how special you are, here, let me show you…). All of the other alleged messiahs also happened to be attractive, young brunettes. He, of course, was the incarnation of the Pleiadian King (See, I’m special, too. Even more special), and we were all to be his wives (ah, there’s the catch…) and he was building a city–the new Zion–that would survive the catastrophic end of the world (fear-based belief system), which was coming soon, naturally (time-sensitive urgency). He was also creepy and old and CLEARLY INSANE.

 

Each piece of the story is carefully crafted to play to vulnerabilities and fears, ultimately luring the victim in through a series of pulls (compliments and validation) and pushes (fear, panic, and scare-tactics). The end goal was isolation (the new Zion), and he’d already positioned himself in power by claiming he was a “king.”

 

Fortunately, this guy was not nearly charismatic enough to build a cult, but if he were, it would have been a dangerous combination.

Why you’re vulnerable: This is a combination of the history of abuse vulnerability I mentioned with the Sexual (Predator) Healer and the open-minded naivety discussed with the Egoic Psychic, which means that this personality can hit you on multiple fronts. Some of them, like Ken Reniere, have even amassed an outward appearance of success and charisma, or latched onto a network of people with famous and fortune (such is the case of Scientology), much like the Dilettante Coach/Influencer. The Cult Leader is a triple threat and a master of manipulation, which is what makes them the most dangerous person you’ll meet on your spiritual path. Sometimes these people hit a trifecta of fame, influence, cult-like followings, marketability, and sexual trauma, such as in the case of the OneTaste, an overpriced new age sex cult that claimed to help people heal from sexual trauma.

Learn how to spot signs of spiritual authoritarianism and spiritual abuse.

The Spiritual Karen

Of all of these people you might meet on your spiritual journey, the Spiritual Karen is probably the least dangerous on an individual level, but the most dangerous because there’s power in numbers, and make no mistake: they are legion.

Often found lurking in suburban households, the organic-only aisle of your local Whole Foods, the front row of your hot yoga class, or posting inspirational quotes in your aunt Linda’s essential oils downline Facebook group, these Karens are onto spirituality like the next MLM fad.

Spiritual Karens are inconspicuous and consider themselves well-meaning. Most of them are in the Evangelism phase of their own spiritual journey and they’re happy to spread the love and light. The problem is, they haven’t quite done their spiritual homework, much less their shadow work, and are woefully lacking in self-awareness, so they have absolutely no clue that half of the time when they are dispensing spiritual “advice,” (which is usually just parroting back their limited understanding of a spiritual quote they saw posted by a Dilettante Coach/Influencer on Instagram) they’re actually being dismissive, derogatory, occasionally racist, and engaging in spiritual bypassing.

Spiritual Karens are the soldiers in The Dilettante Coach/Influencer’s army of social media followers. The Beyhive to the Dilettante’s Beyonce. They also suffer from the same Dunning-Kruger effect as the Dilettante, but in true MLM fashion, only have a local audience. If they weren’t so driven by unrepentant self-righteousness, you’d almost feel sorry for them. They really just don’t know any better, and due to that severe lack of self-awareness, may never learn.

How to recognize them: Spiritual Karens are big believers in toxic positivity and the law of attraction, and say and do things like:

  • You can’t think negative thoughts because you’ll manifest them.
  • Good vibes only.
  • Fake it until you make it.
  • When somebody violates your boundaries or otherwise harms you with their words and actions, you should just “let it go” (as though you could…).
  • Will shame you for being “judgmental” of others, not realizing they are being judgmental of others by shaming you.
  • Often engages in hypocritical behavior because they believe their excuse is valid when no one else’s is.
  • Lives to invalidate your emotions.
  • The way to solve society’s problems is to pretend they don’t exist.
  • The way to solve their own problems is to pretend they don’t exist.
  • The way to solve your problems is to pretend they don’t exist.
  • People of color are manifesting their own experiences with racism because they have a victim mentality, and likewise, women who experience sexual assault are also manifesting their experiences because of their own thoughts.
  • I can’t get the coronavirus because I don’t exist on the same vibrational frequency.
  • “I refuse to live in fear.”
  • High probability of being into Pastel QAnon.
  • May be found trashing a mask display at your local Target.

Why you’re vulnerable: Spiritual Karens can do damage by the sheer volume of their ignorance. But you’re not so much vulnerable to be victimized by a Spiritual Karen–unless you’re a marginalized group in society fighting for social justice, an immunocompromised or elderly member of society attempting to avoid COVID, a good samaritan attempting not to infect one of those people, a minimum-wage retail worker, the manager, or a dissenter making a comment on a Dilettante’s instagram post–as you are to become a Spiritual Karen.

Humility, integrity, self-awareness, and deep empathy are the kryptonite for a Spiritual Karen–and they are the very things that every person on this list lacks. If you, yourself, often practice these things, you don’t have to worry about becoming a Spiritual Karen, or any of the above.

In the same way that my psychic development teacher said that just because someone is psychic, it doesn’t meant they are spiritual–just because someone is “spiritual” or doing spiritual work with the public, it doesn’t mean they:

You can only teach others, lead others, and heal others from the same depth at which you’ve learned, led, and healed yourself.

Learn how to identify spiritual bypassing and spiritual gaslighting.

If you need help discerning who is and isn’t the real deal when it comes to spiritual teachers, coaches, and influencers, check out my post on how to know if a spiritual teacher is credible.

Xo,

Ash

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Materialistic Spirituality

Materialistic Spirituality

Materialistic Spirituality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read How to Know if a Spiritual Teacher is Credible.

Xo,

Ash

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How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

It’s been a bizarre few days in the life of Ashley. An emotional roller coaster, as always, but also filled with tons of observations and insights, as the story usually goes.

Do you ever notice how, when you make a quantum leap in your own personal development, shit seems to get stirred up a bit and you lose a few people along the way? And it’s ok, because they were people who matched your old vibration and now that you’ve upgraded, they’re becoming dead weight that’s trying to hold you down, so you have to burn a few bridges in order to keep going. When you realize that, you’re totally ok with dousing it in gasoline and you might even utter a slight chuckle as you toss the match.

It all began earlier in the week when a “friend” that I’d dropped a few weeks ago suddenly reappeared. I’m at a point in my life right now where I have ZERO interest in people unsolicitedly telling me what they think I should be doing with my life. This person had a notorious history of doing this to me and no amount of me attempting to explain that my life and my decisions are not his to influence or determine unless I specifically ask for his opinion or advice seemed to make him understand that. So I gave him a very clear, explicit guideline of what I was looking for in a friendship at this point in my life:

Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last 6 months of my life hard core purging people and relationships that are not conducive to my own support and well being. And that included a fuck ton of people who couldn’t find it in themselves to let me live my life the way I wanted to and simply provide me with the emotional support that I needed while going through a lot of shit.

So the thing is, I no longer have the time or the patience for people and relationships that can’t respect me, my choices, or my boundaries. I’ve come a long way in the last two months. Maybe even in the last two weeks. The personal development seems to continue to grow with every bridge I burn. I even blocked my dad’s phone number a few weeks ago.

So if you want to be my friend, then show up for me in the way that I need and how I need it. If you can’t do that… then that’s not a friendship that I want or need in my life at this point.

He didn’t like that. At all. So I had to throw some gasoline on that bridge, too, and I didn’t shed a tear over it.

Later in the week, I walked from my apartment down to another neighborhood where I was attending a business meetup and panel discussion. The walk was approximately 1.4 miles which took about 20 minutes. In the short amount of time that it took me to get there, I was cat called five times.

I’ve written about my experiences with sexual harassment in the past rather candidly and I talk about the things I experience day-to-day openly in my Facebook group. I think my previous writings about my experiences have made a pretty good case as to why this is such an issue, and this week’s events only served to support it.

I posted a Facebook status about my experience, thinking that many of the women on my friends list would be able to identify. So many of us endure near daily physical and emotional intimidation while simply walking down the street, fearing that if we don’t respond in the pleasing manner in which we are expected to, that we’ll be met with anger and threats of violence. Sometimes that happens even when we attempt to ignore it.

The commentary that followed from total strangers, both men and women who were supposedly “spiritual,” as that is the major makeup of my 4,000 or so followers, was utterly shocking to me.

I hope I don’t have to explain the absurdity behind all of the “just deal with it or stop going out” and “take it as appreciation” comments, but in case I do:

“I was told that I should take it as a compliment. I had other male friends tell me the same thing.
I’ve also been told the same thing about cat-calling and various other forms of verbal harassment. “It just means you’re pretty!” No. It doesn’t mean I’m pretty. It means I’m a target, and not only are you telling me that I should just accept unwanted negative attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment, you’re telling me that I should LIKE it. That’s fucked up.” – The Systemic Perpetuation of Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

If that’s not gaslighting and emotional abuse at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

“Here, let me abuse you, just a little, and then tell you that you’re silly for feeling uncomfortable. Sssh, baby, just let it happen. You’re so pretty, don’t you like it when I tell you that you’re pretty? What’s that? You don’t like it? Well maybe you shouldn’t dress that way. What’s that? People do this even when you have no makeup on and are wearing crappy workout clothes? Then maybe you should just stay in your house and not leave. You’re so privileged, thinking that you should be able to leave your house without being physically intimidated or verbally assaulted.

Maybe you shouldn’t have looked at me from across the room. Maybe you shouldn’t have been polite and talked to me when I said hi to you, even though if you’d ignored me I would have called you a bitch or a cunt gave you a little dose of the rage and anger I feel every time I’m rejected that I have to project onto the first woman that triggers my insecurities. Who are you to to tell me that your body doesn’t belong to me?”

Seems slightly more absurd when you think of it that way, yes?

Am I supposed to “take it as appreciation” when I walk past a 50 year-old-man on the sidewalk in broad daylight who starts singing a song to me about sucking his dick? Oh, that just means I’m pretty? Got it. Yeah, I’ll try to let that make me feel good about myself…

The next evening, I was at a bar having drinks with a new acquaintance. A guy across the bar – young, semi-attractive, white, kind of looked like a jock – was yucking it up with his buddies. I happened to look in his general direction, at which point he made eye contact with me and yelled to his friends, “Oh yeah! She wants me!”

I had no idea that turning my head to the left and glancing in someone’s general direction was considered a sexual advance. I guess I should just keep my eyes on the floor from now on. Or maybe just not leave my house. But apparently, I can’t speak up about any of it, either, because then I’m just being bitter and complaining. How dare I tell someone, anyone, that it’s not ok to verbally assault, sexually harass, or otherwise overstep any of my boundaries. God, Ashley, you’re such a whiny cunt. Suck it up. Deal with it.

So I’m also not allowed to feel anything about it, because somehow my internal emotions are enabling and justifying this person’s behavior toward me. I’m just supposed to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes and pretend it’s all roses and sunshine, cause you’ve gotta keep that vibration up, you know?

Spare me your new age spiritual bypassing bullshit and pull your head out of your more-enlightened-than-thou ass.

Living your life where everywhere you go, men of all ages, races, and backgrounds are objectifying you, harassing you, and in some cases, physically attempting to intimidate you DAILY is not “such a small thing.” It is a global epidemic. A (shitty) piece of patriarchal karma that needs to be dismantled.

Women have been subjected to this kind of shit for so long that we are afraid to put up boundaries and stand up for ourselves, for fear of god knows what happening. But that’s a clear violation of our boundaries, and it’s not right, and FUCK ANYBODY who tells you that you can’t be pissed off about it or that you should just learn to live with it and deal with. That’s the kind of passive nonchalance that allows this heinous kind of suppression to continue. How about YOU stop ENABLING these douchebags and get on board with the rest of us so that we don’t have to live like this anymore? Because that’s what we’re here to do.

Additionally, to those who think that thinking happy thoughts will magically sweep all of the nasty shit in their lives under the rug… have I got news for you! Personal growth is painful. It requires real, raw, gut-wrenching WORK. Not just on your mind. Not just in how you talk, but also in what you do. Thought, word, deed – that’s the formula for manifestation. So if you’re not going get off of your fluffy ass and do something about it, then GET OFF MY LAWN, or at least get the fuck off of my Facebook page.

My original post spurred a secondary post by someone who got caught up in the conversation, and there was plenty of douchebaggery to be found there as well, with comments like, “Men have been flirting with women this way (in other cultures also) for ages. It’s like peacocking. And don’t be fooled. Women do it also and men feel great when it happens so what is the beef? People got to stop being such bitches sometimes and start loving life as it is.” Someone in my own group even commented, “I get sexually harassed, too. Damn sexist women!”

So let me get this straight…you think that your experience as a 6 foot, 200 pound something man being hit on by a woman is the same as my experience of having a total stranger who is twice my size walk up to me on the street, start pushing his body against me and telling me all the things he wants to do to me? And because you, as a man, feel great when a woman hits on you, that I, as a woman, should feel great about my experience as well?

How many times have you’ve rebuffed a sexual advance from a woman and she responded with an angry outburst? Maybe called you a name or screamed at you in a public place?

Has a woman twice your size – someone that could very easily overpower you, a complete and total stranger, ever come up to you while you’re walking down the street and done what that man did to me? I doubt it.

I get called a bitch and a cunt and a skank for simply IGNORING someone’s advances. Who knows what would happen if I actually responded.

Well, actually, I do, because I have done that on a few occasions with people who were on the lesser end of the intimidation spectrum. He still screamed at me in the middle of a party. I was told to “drop dead” once. That was fun.

Our experiences are fundamentally different, because yours don’t involve threats of violence, death wishes, or the possibility that someone will beat you, shoot you, or rape you simply because you said, “No.”

You got it, buddy. Let’s recap the definition of Sexual Harassment, shall we?

Sexual Harassment: harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

There’s a sure fire way to avoid that. It’s so simple, you’re gonna freak! You ready? You listening?

Take an interest in a woman as a person, first – who she is, what she thinks, what she believes – rather than immediately jumping to, “I think you’re sexy.”

Strike up a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with her physical appearance. Just like you’d talk to a man. Or your mother. Or your sister. Or your niece. Or, you know, a normal, living, breathing human being.

After that, you can pretty easily assess whether or not she is interested in you, at which point, feel free to tell her you’re attracted to her.

Or… OR…

By now, you may be wondering to yourself, “What do the two things you’re talking about in this post have to do with each other, other than the fact that they both occurred in the same week?” I’m about to get there.

You see, not a single one of those people who made those comments up there has ever had a single conversation with me. They don’t even follow this blog. They’re just random people who saw a pretty face on Facebook and sent me a friend request, or, in the woman’s case, commented after her friend did. None of them know me. Not a damn one of them has met me. And yet, for some reason, they all felt the need to interject themselves, their opinions and their beliefs into my life, even going so far as to tell me how I should react, how I should feel, what I should think and what I should do in relation to this one little occurrence that I chose to document on Facebook.

Did I ask for their opinions or input about how I should feel, what I should think, or what I should do? Nope. Sure as fuck did not.

Sure, sure, it’s a public Facebook account and that’s simply the nature of a public forum. People are going to interject their shit and project their shit all over your posts. But the hilarious part is when they get pissed off that I tell them to mind their own damn business and get off my lawn.

It’s astounding how people will deflect themselves from dealing with their own shit by getting up in other people’s business and trying to tell them what to feel, think and do with their lives. Additionally, it’s also astounding when “enlightened” people show just how not enlightened they actually are.

You think that speaking up and telling someone that I will not allow them to treat me like an object, or that they have no inherent right to my body, or that they have no fucking business attempting to control and manipulate me by telling me how to think, act and feel makes me a victim? I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s not allowing myself to become a victim.

Get. Off. My. Motherfucking. Lawn.

Xo,

Ash

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Spiritual Loneliness

Spiritual Loneliness

Spiritual Loneliness

Question from a reader:

“I love reading your stuff, finally I feel like things I have always known deep inside are the truth.

 

I feel like my perception of my/the world has changed so much over the past four years due to this spiritual development. However, I feel as if I’m the only one in my family and friends to get this, so I feel quite alone and many of my friends I cannot be around now as our worlds are so different….

 

How do you break away from them without it seeming odd and mean and how will I find people on my wavelength?”

I‘m so happy that the things I write about resonate with you. 🙂 And resonance is something we’ll talk about today, right along with wavelength.

I know exactly how you feel because I used to feel that way, too. I wrote about that a bit a couple of years ago in my post about coming out of the psychic closet. In the beginning of our spiritual journeys, we are often quite alone in the physical world when it comes to the beliefs we have. It can feel incredibly isolating to start reading about this stuff and then experiencing it first hand and having no one to talk about it with. And then the moment when you try to bring it up, everyone immediately attempts to shut you down, make fun of you, treat you like you’re stupid, or question your sanity.

In some ways, I think it’s the first test for all of us to see if we’re really serious about exploring our spirituality. Are we willing to move forward, despite how the world may treat us?

I’ve met so many people who feel the same way you do (and the way I did). And even though I’ve grown much more secure in my own beliefs and no longer have the need to feel validation from people in my life, it can still feel really isolating and frustrating at times to be able to see the world in such a way and look around you at the vast majority of people who just don’t get it. But I suppose that’s the way it is for people who are clearing the way for the world to change. If they realized they needed to, they’d have done it by now. So it’s up to us to show them the way–not by forcing it on them, just by doing our own thing and fully embodying the path that we’re on.

It’s really hard sometimes to focus on ourselves, but in this case, it can be the best thing to do.

It isn’t uncommon for those of us on our spiritual journey to change quite a bit, to the point where the people around us not longer resonate with us. And this is natural. You’re raising your vibration and so the things and people that you once attracted that were on your level are no longer. They will naturally fall away if you allow them to.

I want to be clear about what I’m saying here: one does not become “spiritual” or raise their vibration simply by believing in spirits and vibrations and metaphysics. One raises their vibration by becoming more in alignment with Love and doing the internal work to live and embody love in all ways.

Learn more about what it means to do thee internal work.

As such, there is absolutely no need to believe in spirit guides, an afterlife, reincarnation or any other metaphysical concept to raise your vibration. You can do that through whichever path you choose, be it religion, atheism, philosophy or something else. All of those things can inherently have spirituality at their core.

So don’t go abandoning friends and family members simply because they don’t believe the same things you do. And when I say that people will naturally fall away, the ones that i’m referring to are the people who are not yet ready to embody love in all ways… or even most ways. Or any ways. lol

As you grow, spiritually, you won’t need to worry about ending those relationships, they’ll fall away of their own accord when the time is right. If it happens to be a toxic relationship that is more detrimental to you than helpful, then perhaps you ought to have let that one go a long time ago! But now that you’re finding more love for yourself and understanding what is best for you, you can see the need to let that relationship go, however you choose to do it.

Read Three Ways to Cut The Cord on a Toxic Relationship.

If there are people that you feel you are ready to let go, simply set an intention to do so, with love. Wish them well in your heart and move down your own path. If want to join you on that path, they will catch up when their time is right.

You will soon discover that you have no need to go looking for people on your wavelength. They will find you.

My friend Meghan came to visit me all the way from Massachusetts and we went to a biker bar out in the middle of nowhere, Missouri, and happened to bump into the two guys there who wanted to talk about quantum physics and enlightenment. lol We didn’t go looking for them. It just happened.

I find myself overhearing people all the time now when I’m out and about discussing metaphysical concepts or their experiences with ayahuasca.

I started a new job about a year ago and recently discovered that two of my coworkers there are also down with the metaphysics. We didn’t have to go looking for each other, we ended up together by pure coincidence… or law of attraction. However you want to look at it. My best friend and even some of my family members have also become much more open to it than what they were initially.

The more we normalize it as a society, the more accepting people will become. And for you, right now, that means simply normalizing it for yourself. Don’t worry about anybody else.

Finding Community

Having an outlet to talk with like-minded people is incredibly validating and liberating. I took a psychic development class and began attending local metaphysical events and started meeting like-minded people locally that way, some of whom have become very dear friends. I also joined discussion groups on Facebook and made a ton of like-minded friends from all across the country: San Diego, Portland, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Nebraska, Georgia, Oklahoma and more.

That being said, I must leave a word of caution about looking for community, online or in person.

When you’re new to spirituality, because you don’t know a lot, and you’re looking for a sense of belonging, it makes you incredibly vulnerable to people who would prey on that. The spiritual community is rife with narcissistic manipulators, shallow influencers, and even more sinister people than that. You must employ a great amount of skepticism and discernment when it comes to who you share your energy with. If you feel in your gut like something is off but you can’t quite put your finger on it, LISTEN TO IT. That’s your spidey sense trying to alert you to a red flag.

Here are some resources to help you polish your discernment skills:

5 toxic spiritual people to avoid and how to spot them.
How to spot spiritual abuse.
How to identify a spiritually immature wellness or spirituality influencer.

That’s also why I created my Facebook group [<—- click to join]–to give like-minded individuals a safe place to convene and talk about their experiences, ask questions, and seek guidance in a spiritually grounded, trauma-informed environment. The group is private, so none of the activity that happens there will show up in anyone’s newsfeed other than people who are already members. If you haven’t joined yet, please do! And feel free to introduce yourself and post about anything spirituality related that you’d like to discuss!

Xo,

Ash

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