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?

My minor in sociology is going to get a workout today. Grab a drink, settle in, and allow me to unpack this for you.

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 Newbs

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).

Spiritual newbs’ minds 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 Q, 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 newbs 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.

“Come for the sense of community! Stay for the spiritual abuse!”

Individualism: Where Christians, Conservatives, and New Agers Hold Hands and Sing Kum Bah Ya

Q 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 Q supporters 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 Q 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.”

A therapist I follow on Instagram (@Narcissismrecoverycenter) 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 Q narrative of child sacrifice and sex trafficking
  • the promise of making the world a safe place

I read an article 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.

It’s no secret that 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 Q 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 Q 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. I’ll be covering the undercurrent of mental illness within the spiritual community and how that shows up in a post in the near future.

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

All of this unhealed trauma that is likely evident in those who follow Q 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. The Qult provides all of the material necessary for one massive act of spiritual bypassing.

Overall, 2020 was the perfect storm of a lack of discernment and critical thinking skills, unhealed trauma and spiritual bypassing, an openness to be led and a desire for a savior, spiritual naivety, 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.

Xo,

Ash

 

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New to Spirituality?

Look up the meanings behind commonly used spiritual terminology and concepts in the Spirituality Encyclopedia.

Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

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.)

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.”

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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New to Spirituality?

Look up the meanings behind commonly used spiritual terminology and concepts in the Spirituality Encyclopedia.

11 Phases of Spiritual Growth

11 Phases of Spiritual Growth

11 Phases of Spiritual Growth

I find that among circles of spiritual seekers, many of us tend to recognize and agree that there are certain phases of consciousness that we’ve all traversed through on our journeys. I’ve written a bit here about each of those common phases in the particular order that they tend to happen.

Pre-awakening: Life was just normal and you thought you knew it all. Just a regular ole’ muggle. Nothing to see here. Then suddenly, one day you come across information that you’ve never really considered before, but it really resonates with you. It makes you stop and think and it piques your curiosity. This is your catalyst–the moment that your world will change forever. You begin a search for answers that change you irrevocably.

The Information Seeking Phase: You can’t get enough of this new information… it’s addicting. Your mind is suddenly open and you’re reading everything you can get your hands on and you’re learning about things that you never knew existed. The weirder, the better. Things you would have laughed off yesterday suddenly seem possible. The whole world is teeming with new possibility. It’s exciting.

The Processing Phase: The information you come across starts to create more questions, and some of it is conflicting, and you become confused. What does it all mean? Why does this person say one thing and this other person say another thing? You also still haven’t quite let go of old doubt and dogma. You’re wavering back and forth between “This is right!” and “Am I crazy?” It’s a fragile moment. Fear still has a grip on you.

The Discovery Phase: You’re starting to wake up to social issues and systems in the world that you never really gave much thought to before, and you’re PISSED. I also call this the “conspiracy” phase… you lose trust in government, in religion, in capitalism, the economy.

If you’re not careful, you can become very bitter, and you start to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Such big problems and little ole’ you has no ability to solve them. But it’s just a natural part of the process–it’s the destruction of your old way of thinking.

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart.” -Chuck Palahniuk

The Evangelism Phase: I also call this the ‘Outrage’ phase, because it’s two-fold. You take up social causes left and right and feel it’s your duty to wake up the rest of the world to this atrocity we call Earth. You may also be shouting to the world about the exciting information you’ve recently learned only to discover that it’s not as well-received by the rest of the world.

People may laugh at you. They’ll ask you if you need them to call an ambulance. They’ll treat you like you’re stupid. It’s a fragile moment… fear is still there. You may begin to doubt yourself. You waiver back and forth between excitement and shame.. but that shame is fear’s attempt of keeping hold of you. Remember, that which you resist, persists…

The Realization Phase: You begin to see how emotionally draining the outrage and the evangelism can be and you start to take a step back and perhaps reassess your situation. But this is important, because it opens a door for you. Things start to make a lot more sense. This is the beginning of acceptance. Acceptance for the world around you and acceptance for your new beliefs and acceptance for yourself. That which you accept disappears.

The Disciple Phase: Once you’ve begun acceptance, a floodgate of new understanding opens. You re-read things that you saw before and you find new meaning in it. You understand it more thoroughly and more deeply. Fear finally loses its grip on you and you let it go. It feels like a ton of bricks has been lifted from your shoulders.

You’ve waded through the waters of gurus, swamis, channeled messages and psychics and aliens and beings from other dimensions and you’ve settled on one or two teachers that really resonate with you and you follow their messages more closely. When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.

THIS IS YOUR WARNING

 

You have to be careful with these phases in the middle of your spiritual journey. There are many pitfalls involved. You’re in an incredibly vulnerable state at the beginning of your spiritual journey, and it makes you ripe for psychic predators in the spiritual community, of which there are many. Narcissists and dilettantes masquerade as coaches, spiritual teachers, psychics, and healers, often inflicting harm on vulnerable people who put their trust in them.

 

Be diligently discerning about who you trust. I cannot emphasize this enough.

 

Just because someone claims to be a psychic or channeler does not mean that they have done the ego work required to pass on those messages without twisting them through their own fear-based belief system.

 

Just because someone has a pretty instagram wall with thousands of followers (or even hundreds of thousands) does not mean that they have actually done their own shadow work or fully grasp the concepts they are alleging to teach. Much of the time, they’re just feeding their ego instead of taming it.

 

Just because someone claims to be a healer does not mean they’ve healed themselves.

 

Additionally, for the women reading this, PLEASE BEWARE OF SEXUAL PREDATORS IN THE HEALING BUSINESS. I have encountered MANY. They will offer you free healing and slowly begin to make sexual advances. They look for women who are emotionally vulnerable with weak boundaries. Also BEWARE OF EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL PREDATORS, AS WELL AS CULT LEADERS. If you have a history of trauma or abuse, you are especially vulnerable to these people. Uphold your boundaries, and by all means, work with only women if that makes you more comfortable. If you are unsure about someone and would like a second opinion, contact me.

 

And finally, you, yourself, have to be careful not to become one of these people. Don’t get stuck in one of these previous phases through spiritual bypassing.

 

Need help discerning who is and isn’t a credible spiritual teacher? Here’s some posts that will help.

 

The Shadow Work Phase: Now it’s time to put all of those things you’ve learned to work. You spend much more time looking inward for answers than from someone else. You might start meditating. You may start developing intuitive abilities of your own. You connect with your guides, you start learning about yourself on a soul level, and you begin your healing journey. The hard work of facing your shadow, getting really honest with yourself,

You now base your learning on your own experience rather than on someone else’s word and you’re able to look back at your life and see how all of your experiences shaped you and led you to this moment. You feel at ease and self-assured. You know this is your path. It’s the most important work you will ever do. And then you meet your dark night of the soul: when the student is truly ready, the teacher will disappear. All of the wisdom you’ve gained throughout your journey is put to the test. Are you truly ready to break free from your self-imposed chains?

The Rebirth Phase: You emerge from your shadow work like a phoenix from the ashes of your former self. You have really weird experiences and are doing things that you never imagined were possible when you were just a muggle. You may have understandings about things that no one behind you can comprehend, because they haven’t yet faced their shadow. In many ways, you begin the process all over again, because we’re never finished on this path, and being further ahead on the path is no better than being further behind because there’s always someone ahead of you and behind you no matter where you are.

The Guide Phase: You’ve learned enough on your path to begin helping others, and not in an egoic, “I think this is fun and I don’t really know what I’m doing but it feels really good to pretend I do,” sort of way or the excited feeling of converting all of your friends over to your new way of thinking that you experienced during your Evangelism phase, but out of genuine compassion for your fellow man because you were once where they were. You may even feel called to do so with a sense of greater purpose to help heal the world around you.

But all the while, you grow and you change and you understand that you’re never finished. You are always growing and changing and evolving. You’re perfectly comfortable with who you are and that allows you to be a better teacher because you don’t need to argue to be right, and you don’t fear rejection. You simply offer contrast–another option, another view. You understand and respect other people’s paths and you know that their view is as likely to change at any moment as yours did all along the way, so you leave a bread crumb if they choose to follow it.

Did any of these descriptions resonate with you? Which phase do you think you’re in right now? Do you think there’s a phase I missed?

Xo,

Ash

 

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