Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

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

How is it that New Agers, yoga moms, Neo Nazis, Evangelical Christians, and a slew of other unlikely comrades all ended up under the spell of a conspiracy narrative that positioned a man of highly questionable character who clearly suffers from textbook narcissistic personality disorder as both a “lightworker” and the man saving the world’s children from elite Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles?

First you have to understand the different camps of people who have gravitated to QAnon. Every single person who is a part of the Qult will fall into one or more of the following categories (there may be more, but these are the ones I’ve observed):

  • Newly introduced to spirituality
  • Individualist outlook and political ideology
  • Low capacity for empathy or low emotional intelligence
  • Higher level of narcissistic tendencies
  • Low capacity for critical thinking and discernment
  • Unhealed trauma and poor coping skills

Spiritual Newcomers

Spirituality today is more accessible and mainstream than ever before, which has resulted in droves of the “newly awakened” and spiritually curious.

People who are only a few months and even up to three and four years into their spiritual journey are opening up their minds in new and exciting ways, and discovering all kinds of information that’s changing their entire perspective on their lives. Naturally, there’s a certain stage inherent in this where you’re willing to literally consider anything, including conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories are not new to spirituality. If you’ve been around long enough, you know that they’ve always been creeping around in the dingy corners, whether it’s lizard people, the Illuminati, or flat earth. There’s absolutely a conspiracy phase that a lot of people go through during their awakening process and not everyone makes it out (more on this in a bit).

Newcomers to spirituality have minds that are wide open–it’s almost like seeing the world in a whole new light–but they lack the knowledge to own their healing and as such, haven’t done any shadow work yet. Because of this, they have a low capacity for spiritual or intuitive discernment–doubly so if they already have poor critical thinking skills. This combination of open-mindedness and lack of discernment makes them incredibly vulnerable to spiritual bullshit, including conspiracy theories and spiritual abuse.

Learn how to spot spiritual abuse.

We’ve all been there. You’re just starting out, you don’t know anything, and you put your faith in people who appear to have more wisdom or more of a connection to the divine than you do, which makes you highly susceptible to influence by figures of perceived authority, such as wellness influencers, psychics, and channels. Along comes QAnon, wrapped in flowery love and light, and it’s being peddled by influencers who themselves are still in early the stages of awakening and have prematurely named themselves spiritual authorities, so newcomers fall for it hook, line, and sinker–especially if they’re already steeped in individualist political ideology and belief systems, because it’s confirmation bias, right?

Learn how to spot toxic spiritual people.

Additionally, when you first begin your spiritual journey, it can be lonely and isolating when no one else around you gets it, so you search for community online via social media. When you find a group of people who seem to be on the same journey you are, it’s validating! But this also makes one incredibly vulnerable to manipulation by charismatic spiritual leaders and influencers and their flocks of brainwashed, unquestioning followers.

Individualism: Where Christians, Conservatives, and New Agers Meet

QAnon makes itself attractive to Evangelical Christians and conservatives through individualist values and political ideology, which is where you also have an overlap with the popular but misunderstood New Age personal empowerment rhetoric, where one’s inherent worth and goodness as a human being is directly correlated to or evident by their ability to amass wealth and be successful, or in other words their God-given blessings / their hard work that paid off / what they’ve “attracted” into their life through their “positivity.”

Donald Trump is culturally associated with being worthy, deserving, and “blessed” by those who hold individualist values because he’s a billionaire (nevermind that he was born into wealth, or the shady business practices and tax evasion that helped him keep it…). The Q narrative that he’s also an undercover lightworker is the “proof” of his inherent goodness, and his outward manifestations of narcissism are dismissed and explained away as “fake news,” a conspiratorial plot against him, or just playing the part so that he can infiltrate the deep state. Hint: no real lightworker will ever consciously perpetrate acts of abuse. The label we give to people who consciously perpetrate acts of abuse is abuser.

Learn about individualism and how it shows up in spirituality.

If you read the post I just linked to, it explains how an individualist mentality, when taken to an extreme, is actually a form of separation consciousness. Those who are early in their spiritual journey don’t understand this because, once again, they haven’t been in the game long enough to have the depth of understanding of spiritual principles to recognize it.

Narcissism, Racism, and Spirituality

As I mentioned in the post I linked above about individualism, the further on the scale of individualism one is, the more self-centric they tend to be, and absolute individualism is tantamount to the ultimate narcissism. Does individualism turn people into narcissists, or do narcissists gravitate to individualistic values? Probably mostly the latter, though cultural conditioning almost certainly plays a part.

I’ve written before about how narcissists are attracted to positions of authority where they can amass groups of people to worship them, which makes spirituality a prime target. And a key trait of a narcissist is a low capacity for or total lack of empathy. What do I mean when I say a low capacity for empathy?

I mean that they aren’t able to imagine what it might feel like to be someone else, and as such, don’t have compassion for their fellow man, or feel any sense of social responsibility. The ones who can muster at least some empathy are only able to do so within their inner circle: close friends, family, neighbors. They don’t have the same capacity to empathize with strangers. In other words, they can only empathize with someone when that person’s pain directly impacts them (and their own emotions).

Some of the more extreme QAnon believers who are not spiritual (read: Nazis), and even some who are spiritual have a low capacity for empathy and, subsequently, a low emotional intelligence. This low capacity for empathy remains even after they are exposed to spirituality because they haven’t engaged in the necessary shadow work to heal their wounds.

Learn how to spot narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

Many Q influencers exhibit narcissistic tendencies and engage in forms of spiritual abuse, which means that their underlying motivation for sharing the QAnon narrative is to use it as an avenue to amass power over others and build their narcissistic energy supply. I’ve watched many of them belittle and berate their followers who question why their predictions haven’t come to fruition yet with things like, “Stop whining,” and “Suck it up,” “Either ride it out or cry yourself to sleep,” and “Stop posting whiney bullshit.”

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

This is not the first time that New Age thought and mysticism has found itself associated with Nazi-branded fascism. Check out this article by Jules Evans about mysticism within Hitler’s regime.

The Women of QAnon

Those spiritual folks who have fallen under the spell of Q who do have a greater capacity for empathy are lured in by one or both of two things:

  • the emotional charge behind the QAnon narrative of child sacrifice and sex trafficking
  • the promise of making the world a safe place

I read an oped written by a sexual assault counselor who was trying to understand how some of the victims that she worked with could possibly support Donald Trump, considering the litany of accusations against him, including the infamous recording of “grab her by the pussy.” Every single one of the survivors she interviewed told her that Trump made them feel safer.

Women who are sexually assaulted are statistically likely to have a prior history of abuse. Many times that abuse begins at home. It’s possible that a woman who’s been sexually assaulted and feels safe because of Trump’s toxic masculinity tough guy talk likely had a toxic masculine authority figure during childhood and the only thing that makes her feel safe is the idea that there’s a man around who is capable of kicking someone’s ass to protect her. The Q narrative that Trump is kicking bad guy ass all over the world and saving victims of sexual abuse, particularly children, is going to resonate with that unhealed trauma.

People who have grown up in a household with abuse are also less likely to be able to identify abusive behavior in the future, which not only makes them easy prey for the narcissists in the spiritual community, it means that they have trouble identifying red flags when they see them, which explains why these people seem to be blind to the parade of red flag behavior coming from Donald Trump and a large number of Q influencers.

False Intuition

One of the more bizarre aspects of QAnon is the number of psychics and channels claiming to be receiving intuitive information about Trump being a lightworker (I was just sent another last night). Remember back at the beginning of this where I said that not everybody makes it out of the conspiracy phase? A lot of the so-called psychics and channels that are peddling QAnon information never grew beyond this phase of their spiritual awakening (and some are just delusional narcissists).

Here’s why:

There’s a certain lack of groundedness (root chakra issues) at play with individuals who’ve fallen into the Qult which makes them extremely susceptible to fear–that lack of safety I talked about just a minute ago falls into this category. Without doing the appropriate shadow work to heal the trauma behind these blocks, these folks never develop discernment in the spiritual sense. This major lack of discernment (third eye block/imbalance) renders them unable to see things clearly or think critically. I’ve noticed that a certain subset of QAnon supporters seem to have a very weak capacity for abstract thought. They can’t seem to get beyond the details of the conspiracy narrative and see the real big picture (great video about abstract vs. narrow thought here).

The Venn diagram of conspiracy theorists and ungrounded spiritual folks who lack discernment heavily overlaps in one area specifically, which is a propensity for apophenia. Apophenia, also known as magical thinking, is the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things, or see patterns in random data. You’ll see people in the spiritual community attributing spiritual meanings to all sorts of very common, explainable, ordinary things, like insisting that lens flares are actually spirit orbs, which is, once again, indicative of that lack of critical thinking and discernment.

Learn how apophenia plays into QAnon’s alternate reality.

Because none of these people have engaged in any in-depth amount of shadow work to heal their trauma, and subsequently, shed old belief systems and programming, they’re not truly what we might call a “clear channel” or fully in tune with their intuition, which means they can’t discern the difference between apophenia or their ego and actual intuition, and any information they may intuit will be filtered through their twisted belief system–including their political ideologies and individualistic values, as well as any mental or emotional illnesses.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 7 of Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith that discusses this:

The sixth chakra is where our capacity for discernment lies. A healthy sixth chakra (Third eye) not only accesses psychic realms, but also enables us to discern Truth.

 

Excess energy in the sixth chakra happens when energy is withdrawn from the lower chakras. Without the grounding that brings limitation and simplicity, a person can get lost in the boundlessness of the upper chakras and have no way to sort it out. They may over identify with archetypal energies and have too little personal ego to balance it. One may think they are Jesus, Cleopatra, or the next president, but have little awareness of their effect on their closest friends. The archetypal fantasies are used to buffer the weak ego and bring feelings of importance and power. They may discover some element of their past lives, and then attribute every current problem to unresolved issues from this memory.

 

As I do psychic readings in my own work, I am constantly amazed and shocked by the power some people give to a psychic reader. I am usually tipped off to a sixth chakra excess when the person sits down and tells me with wide-eyed seriousness every detail of a former reading as if it were gospel. The sixth chakra is wide open, without discernment or discrimination. It is important to remain open to psychic, nonrational input, but equally important to rationally sort through it. Lack of discernment reveals poor sixth chakra boundaries, which allow it to become overloaded.

 

This is not to deny the possible value of intuition, past life memories, precognition, telepathy, or any other psychic arts. With sixth chakra excess, however, the ability to discern truth from fantasy becomes impaired. The universality of the sixth chakra opens to the vastness on the astral plane where anything goes without the testing ground of the lower chakras. This is a dangerous state.

 

The absence of energy in the lower chakras makes it easy to come and go from the body and so this person may indeed be receiving psychic input. This does not mean that all their input is accurate however, or that the perceived patterns are getting integrated into consciousness. Such people can often become “channelers,” people who have the ability to leave their body and let other entities come through them. Opinions on the value of channeling vary from person to person. Whether the information channeled is from a separate, discorporate entity, one’s unconscious or higher self, or subject to the whim of the imagination, there is no doubt that in some cases, accurate information can come through. As with any psychic activity, there must be a testing ground that sorts through what is said with discrimination. The excessive sixth chakra wants to bypass this process.

Note: When she talks about ego, she means the ego in the psychological sense, not the typical sense in which spiritual people talk about the ego. Learn more about that here.

According to the author, upper-chakra imbalances are a result of lower-chakra imbalances. Think of the chakra system like a house, where the root chakra is the foundation. If the foundation is off, the whole house is wobbly. Our most basic survival needs and fears are governed by the root chakra, and our emotional center is governed by the sacral chakra, which is where the bocks and imbalances from emotional abuse largely lie.

When you think about the sorts of traumas inflicted socially (poverty, racism, misogyny), they mostly affect the root chakra where our sense of safety and ability to meet our basic survival needs is housed. Generational trauma (sexual abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, parental narcissistic abuse) mostly affects the sacral chakra which governs our emotional regulation, boundaries, and relationships with others. It’s really no wonder we have a very large group of millions of people who end up projecting their own unhealed trauma onto the world around them, manifesting in a lack of discernment and critical thinking.

It’s also not a coincidence that sufferers from many types of mental illness have also experienced trauma and are drawn to New Age mysticism.

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

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

All of this unhealed trauma that is likely evident in those who follow QAnon also means that many of them have unexamined coping mechanisms resultant from said trauma.

In general, there are very poor emotional coping skills exhibited among adherents of QAnon, and it’s even worse for the ones with low emotional intelligence. Their untrained, unhealed nervous systems have been overwhelmed by the stress, fear, and anxiety that has come with a global pandemic and precarious economic situation, so their unhealthy coping mechanisms are to:

  • look outside of themselves for a sense of safety (looking for a savior)
  • deny the reality in front of them (self-gaslighting, a symptom of prolonged exposure to psychological abuse)
  • and delusion (as an avenue to insulate them from having to sit with and experience uncomfortable emotions)

Throw in a highly charged election rife with disinformation and you have a recipe for disaster. These people were attracted to the Q narrative because it gave them something to focus on other than their own feelings of powerlessness and lack of control. It made them feel like everything was going to be ok, because someone else had it under control. QAnon provides all of the material necessary for one massive act of spiritual bypassing.

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

Overall, 2020 was the perfect storm of a lack of discernment and critical thinking skills, unhealed trauma and spiritual bypassing, an openness to be led and a desire for a savior, spiritual naivety, and an individualistic culture that left millions of people incredibly vulnerable to the Q narrative. If you’ve managed to make it out of 2020 without falling into conspiratorial thought processes, congratulations! You’re a (mostly) stable, balanced, grounded human being!

The Big Reveal

I’ll be completely honest, I’d never even heard of QAnon until early 2020. I spent mid 2017 through February of 2020 in a cocoon. I didn’t even start blogging again until March, after having been silent for an entire year while I was taking care of my own mental health. I never even noticed a single influencer talking about it, mainly because I can smell spiritual bullshit from a mile a way and I never follow those who speak it.

QAnon gave us a gift, though. Back in summer of 2018, I wrote this in an instagram post:

Since the August 21st solar eclipse, there’s been a lot of triggering events in the collective that are systematically dismantling the world as we know it to make way for rebuilding new paradigm. This particular one has to do with spirituality. It kind of reminds me of Revelations when it talks about the false prophets. This energy, to me, feels like the fall of “false spirituality.” That could mean religion and other institutions, but I’m really feeling that the way it’s going to hit the New Age community is that people who have prostituted spirituality, bastardized spirituality for personal gain, are going to fall hard.

 

People are going to begin to see through the bullshit. This means anyone who isn’t 100% authentic in how they are presenting themselves to the masses, anyone who is peddling trite spiritual platitudes as a way to build their social media following or sell their wares–people are going to start to see through them.

 

I saw it like a wave…. one wave hits the beach and as the next wave comes in, it pulls the first one back and away. This upheaval makes way for the ones who have been standing in their authentic selves and their truth to come forward into the mainstream. The new wave of authenticity overtakes the old. It felt like someone or maybe more than one big name person was going to have a very public outing. A fall from grace type thing. Or, I don’t know, maybe it will be many, similar to the #metoo wave.

 

However it shows up, that feels like the theme, and it’s all related to us individually during this new moon because we’re establishing firm foundations around what we believe in, from a spiritual standpoint. It’s almost like, “This is my truth. This is what I’m carrying forward.” And that declaration allows the people on an individual level to be more discerning with where they seek their spiritual nurture. For current practitioners, it feels like a call: bring yourself into alignment. Bring yourself into authenticity. Deal with your shit… or else.

Now we know exactly who was in alignment and who wasn’t. The false prophets have been revealed, all thanks to QAnon.

I’ve already written extensively about the dangers (and narcissism) of pre-enlightened wellness influencers as well as spirituality for profit and both of those certainly play a heavy part in this. I didn’t think it was necessary to repeat it, but I will leave these posts here so that you can also read them:

Materialistic Spirituality
How to spot a spiritually immature wellness influencer

Breaking the Recruitment Cycle

In the marketing, branding, and sales world, we have this concept called a sales funnel. The top of the sales funnel generates brand awareness. The channels that bring people into the top of this funnel are TV, news, and social media. Once someone is in the funnel, you then target them with more niche messaging (via email, follow-up ads, etc.), usually via some kind of storytelling that connects one of their needs/desires to your brand. This storytelling continues throughout the funnel until you finally drive them to the bottom where they commit and make a purchase or become a client.

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

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

As I’ve laid out in this post, spiritually unsound influencers and evangelists in the wellness community are serving as top-of-the-funnel recruiters into QAnon. The middle of that funnel serves to radicalize them, and at the bottom of that funnel is fascism, white supremacy, extremism, and acts of terrorism. We have a collective duty and a personal responsibility to get the misinformation in the spiritual community under control.

So, as a community, where do we go from here? How do we expel the darkness?

The good thing about spirituality is that there is no central governing authority to attempt to exhort control over everyone as a group, as with say the Catholic church. Spirituality places you as the central authority, by telling you to question everything, use your intuition, and take what resonates and leave the rest.

The bad thing about spirituality is that there is no central governing authority to control the people who are clearly out of control or suffering from mental illness from naming themselves a spiritual authority and doing harm to the people who come under their influence. At least churches have a hierarchy that’s supposed to address those things (though much of the time, they just cover it up…).

Since we have no centralized, singular authority or governing body, we’ll just have to work on our collective the same way we work on ourselves. Through shadow work–as a community.

We confront our darkness, we shine light on it, and we integrate it instead of looking the other way. The radicalization is already in progress, but we can start to counter it by becoming aware and evangelizing counter-messaging, and by shutting down those people at the top of the funnel doing the recruiting.

We confront and shine light on it by acknowledging the shit show that is the wellness industry and the role that it has played in facilitating the current state of America. We stop running away from conflict and pretending it isn’t there, even if it means calling someone out on their on their abusive shit (you can also just post my spiritual abuse article as a comment. *shrug*)–or calling someone in who just doesn’t know any better.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hold ourselves (and each other) accountable: we speak up when we see someone abusing their power, we are careful of the people we support with likes, follows, and shares. If something feels off, it probably is. Do your own shadow work instead of your own research. Become trauma informed. Go deep with spiritual knowledge and integrate it before becoming an evangelist. Maintain skepticism! It’s healthy!

We integrate it by educating our community about the shadow of spirituality: the narcissistic cult leaders and their followers, the self-serving, for-profit wellness influencers, the mentally ill or ego maniacal psychics and channelers, the spiritual abuse tactics. All of it.

If you’re an influencer or practitioner of any kind, make it a point to consistently share educational information regularly and give it a platform. We cannot stay silent on this any longer. We have to make a declaration about what we stand for.

Share the shit out of information that can educate others about cult recruitment tactics, abuse and trauma, shadow work, spiritual abuse, and any other aspect of toxic spirituality.

The more aware we are of ourselves as a community, the less likely this stuff can continue to exist and spread to new people.
For those who may have already been recruited into the radicalization funnel, awareness of these tactics is likely not going to steer them away. By this time, it’s too late. If you have a close personal relationship with someone who has been recruited into QAnon (or some version of it), you’ll find some helpful tips in this interview with cult expert Steve Hassan.

I also HIGHLY recommend reading this Vanity Fair interview.

Xo,

Ash

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

Have You Been the Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

Have You Been the Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

Have You Been the Victim of Spiritual Abuse?

The term spiritual abuse refers to any attempt to control or hold power over another person using religion, faith, beliefs, or spirituality.

Often employed by cult leaders, spiritual abuse comes wrapped in spiritual words, phrases, and rationales, and can use any tactic employed by any kind of abuser, whether it’s shaming, shunning, physical abuse, gaslighting, harassment, humiliation, or other forms of psychological abuse. The end goal is to instill fear in the victim as a means to condition them for manipulation and control.

  • Shaming instills fear of being a bad person and low self-worth, which makes the victim more reliant for validation from the authority figure
  • Shunning instills fear of abandonment
  • Physical abuse instills fear of physical repercussions
  • Gaslighting instills fear and doubt of one’s own thoughts and emotions

Examples of New Age spiritual abuse include:

Cultivate or exploit their victim’s naivety in regard to spirituality.

 

Use spiritual concepts about unity to justify silencing victims.

 

May use spirituality to imply or explicitly state that if dissenters understand spirituality differently, the difference of opinion is actually a product of fear, being less enlightened (when it’s actually the abuser whose understanding is based in fear and lack of spiritual understanding), or not having the same level of divine connections that they do, or that other, contradictory sources of information have been “hijacked by dark forces.”

 

Flex their alleged knowledge of spirituality to position themselves as more enlightened than other teachers who contradict them.

 

Exploit spirituality to make the victim feel like they are responsible for their own circumstances because the victim is spiritually immature. They may accuse, berate, critique, attack, belittle, condemn or guilt trip the victim.

 

The abuser often paints themselves as a martyr while simultaneously positioning the victim as the wrongdoer in an attempt to undermine the victim’s credibility while emphasizing their own.

 

Exploit spirituality to minimize or shift the blame for their behavior, such as claiming that the victim is simply projecting, or justify silencing the victim as “setting boundaries.”

 

Exploit spiritual concepts and practices for financial gain.

 

Use tantric practices or sexual healing as a cover to attempt sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault.

 

Over inflate or lie to the victim about their abilities or how they are regarded by the New Age and wellness community, isolating them from possible sources of support and reinforcing their own superiority.

 

Exploit spirituality to gaslight, dismiss, or invalidate a victim into ignoring the abuse with platitudes such as “what you focus on, you create,” accuse them of having a victim mentality, label them as not being “awakened” or calling them a sheep.

 

Attribute accusations against them to the work of evil spirits, negative entities, Satanists, or the deep state.

 

Use fearful predictions or prophecies that are always just around the corner to instill fear and obedience in followers. When predictions or prophecies don’t come true, there’s always an excuse and another prediction/prophecy to once again keep followers hooked and afraid to leave.

 

Use fear-shaming as a means of gaslighting and manipulation. In other words, the abuser shames the victim’s common sense beliefs and actions claiming that they are acting from a place of fear in instances where fear is not an actual motivator.

 

Use the community to protect the abuser, and isolate the victim. The abuser may have a large group of loyal followers who will attack, dismiss, and ostracize the victim for pointing out the abuse or questioning the abuser.

 

Socially isolate their victims by eroding their trust in other people, and their own discernment, and limiting their access to or eroding their trust in outside information, or support, or both.

 

Use evil spirits or negative entity attachments as explanations for the victim’s accusations or behavior when the victim’s understanding contradicts fear-based information, such as telling them that their own intuitive information is actually coming from a negative entity or dark energy.

What constitutes a cult?

Cult behavior can occur within a well-defined group of people, or loosely across disparate groups of people. It can appear in internet communities or within groups of people who gather regularly face-to-face.

One of the main indicators of a cult, beyond all of the spiritual abuse tactics listed above, is that it either actively or passively recruits individuals through the use of what is known as love bombing– appealing to a person’s sense of brokenness or loneliness by, at least initially, providing praise, a sense of community, and otherwise manipulating the person’s desire to feel special and understood. Once the individual has been successfully integrated into and the community, the abuse and dependence conditioning begins.

The second defining trait of a cult is that there is often a pyramid structure with a singular figure of authority at the top. This authority figure, the cult leader, will often claim to be special in some way themselves, and present themselves as the sole person who has access to some kind of truth, a way of living, or a divine being, and that truth/way can never be questioned. They may present themselves as a channel, a psychic, a spiritual teacher, a prophet, a social media influencer, a self-help guru, a business, or government figure–any sort of position of power that can be wielded over a group of people.

There may be intermediate authority figures in the cult hierarchy who disseminate the cult leader’s philosophies and teachings, and also serve as evangelists and recruiters. These intermediate authority figures gain power by serving as mini-cult leaders to their own groups.

As you may have noticed, many organizations operate under the cult pyramid structure, including businesses and religious organizations, and not all of them engage in [all of] the abusive tactics mentioned above. The defining trait of a cult lies in its underlying motivation: to recruit, manipulate, extort, exploit, and control.

 

Spiritual abuse is rampant within the spiritual community and is a key indicator of cult classification. Spiritual abuse is being used by adherents of Qanon and other cults to keep people in the fold “trusting the plan.” Please consider sharing this information, especially with anyone who is new to spirituality, in an effort to raise awareness about spiritual abuse.

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Xo,

Ash

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Why QAnon Infected The Spiritual and Wellness Communities

The Shadow of Spirituality

The Shadow of Spirituality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Xo,

Ash

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Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

 

 

Speak your truth.

I hear this phrase thrown around a lot, usually in situations where someone is, just has, or is about to say something that sounds a little bit…crazy – whether it be an opinion or an experience.

Yes, it’s true, we should all be allowed to speak our truth. Freedom of speech, after all! But just like freedom of speech, speaking your truth does not mean that you are protected from the consequences. Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one. Experiences are filtered through your beliefs, which happen to be the foundation of your opinions.

You see, it’s your truth, not the truth. Your truth is just a version, an interpretation of the Truth, and it can be as close to the absolute Truth or as far away from the absolute Truth as your current place in your spiritual evolution allows you to understand. And that’s the truth ;).

But we should be able to be who we are and believe what we believe!

Yes, that’s true, too, so long as you take one thing into consideration:

You have to be prepared for the inevitable lesson that what you find to be an absolute truth today will eventually no longer be so at some point in the future.

That’s the nature of evolution. Things change. You find out new information and what you once thought was a solid experience suddenly is seen in a new light, and you realize that perhaps what you originally thought wasn’t quite the way it actually was.

The problem with “speak your truth” is that people can become attached to that experience, and dependent on that experience, and they incorporate that experience into part of their identity, and then later when they find new information that broadens their original view, it creates an internal crisis, and they fall apart. The hard lesson learned.

I find that the best way to handle such things is to find a healthy balance between belief and skepticism, remain detached from the experience itself and refrain from making any conclusions about intuitive information until such a time as you’ve gotten “all the facts” so to speak.

Simply hold that thing as a possibility that may be proven right – or wrong – at any point in the near future. File it away under the “curios information” folder and see what else accumulates as you go along.

Spiritual Teachers Are Responsible to More People Than Just Themselves

Speaking your truth takes on a whole new meaning when you become a spiritual teacher. As any kind of digital influencer, people with platforms are community leaders who have placed themselves in positions of authority. Having those platforms is a form of power and influence, and to quote Uncle Ben from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Once again, even as a spiritual leader, our truth is not always the Truth. If we present our truth as the Truth we then leave the territory of personal opinion into recommendation.

As a spiritual teacher and digital influencer, you have a greater responsibility than simply to yourself. You have a responsibility to your community. That responsibility comes with the ability to both heal and harm people with the ideas that you share–particularly during a global health emergency–because you’ve built a community of people who look to you as someone who has knowledge.

When we reach this point, we are living our lives in service to the collective. It’s no longer about us. And that’s the life we choose.

If we want to go back to a life of “I can say whatever I want and share my opinions without consequence,” then we need to step away from being a community leader.

What kind of truth am I talking about exactly? Here’s a real life example:

My attention was 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.”

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 that they respect and and whose opinion they believe is “Truth” to 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 they are here to heal people.

Said coach is entitled to her opinion. I might even go so far as to say 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 is now projecting her own experience onto other women. Not to mention she is only holding the victim accountable and more or less absolving the abuser of any wrongdoing in the process.

But as a coach and a healer, 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. Her careless victim shaming can lead someone into a shame spiral that ends in suicide.

No, as individuals, we aren’t directly responsible for another person’s thoughts or feelings or choices. But our actions and words do contribute to the climate that people live in which informs their thoughts about themselves, and as coaches, healers, influencers and the like, we hold a form of power over the people who look up to us as a role model and it is our duty to wield that power responsibly so that we, ourselves, do not become an abuser toward the people we are purporting to help.

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 Know If A Spiritual Teacher Is Credible

How To Know If A Spiritual Teacher Is Credible

How To Know If A Spiritual Teacher Is Credible

The concept of credibility came up in my post on critical thinking and spirituality yesterday. I think part of our issue today with all of the misinformation floating around is that a lot of people don’t really understand what credibility means. Today I’m going to give you a rundown of what makes someone credible in the realms of science and journalism, and how to apply that to spirituality.

For those who may not know me, my current day job is as a marketing director and science writer/editor for a private research university on the East Coast. I write about and promote scientific research across the gamut of science and engineering, including quantum mechanics and computing, biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity, robotics, data science, electrical and computer engineering, and environmental science. I graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism–one of the top three programs in the country–in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a minor in sociology. I worked for four years at various advertising agencies as a writer and account executive, then I moved on to the tech realm for another seven years where I helped develop, brand, and market social media platforms, apps, and other technology-centric businesses. I also did a six-year stint volunteering for an animal welfare organization in one of the most impoverished cities in the country helping them with marketing, branding, and other external communications. And finally, most of you know me because I’ve been writing a little spirituality blog for the past six years.

These are my credentials. Credentials are what constitutes credibility in a specific area. My credentials provide me with at least some credibility in the areas of journalism, animal welfare, not-for-profit marketing, social systems, constructs, and behavior, science and technology, marketing and advertising, and spirituality, as these are areas that I have years of direct experience in, as well as an educational background.

In the world of academia you have to have A LOT of credentials to be considered credible, especially in science due to the technical nature of the subject matter. It’s not enough to simply have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or chemistry–that makes you credible to the layman, but not to other scientists and engineers. To have credibility among other scientists and engineers, one needs to have at the very least a Ph.D. in the subject matter in which they are attempting to speak on, and people with Ph.D.s who work in academia are quick to tell you, “I can’t speak on that. I’m not an expert in that area” when it comes to media inquiries. I work with a guy who is developing a mask that’s made of anti-viral materials for potential applications with COVID, and he can’t (and won’t) speak to the efficiency of regular medical masks, because his expertise is in chemically-based materials (materials science), not disease transmission (virology, epidemiology, microbiology).

Most folks with a Ph.D. spend their lives studying one-two specific problems that fall within their general area. For example, I work with a quantum physicist who specializes in quantum entanglement. Everything he does is relative to entanglement and nothing else. Another quantum physicist works in the area of gravity. He only researches theories related to gravity and nothing else. Another quantum physicist I work with researches ways to engineer quantum computing technology. He only researches quantum computing and nothing else. The guy who does quantum computing doesn’t consider himself an expert in gravity, and the guy who is an expert in gravity doesn’t consider himself qualified to speak about quantum computing, even though they both have a Ph.D. in physics. The guy who is an expert on quantum entanglement? His work overlaps both areas. This is why scientists often collaborate–they bring in people who have the same level of expertise as they do, but in a closely related area.

To be honest, though, lots of people have Ph.D.s and some are really good at what they do and others not so much, just like any other vocation. What makes a scientist with a Ph.D. highly credible is how many peer-reviewed papers they’ve published, the prestige of the organizations from which they’ve been awarded funding, the amount of funding, and the impact factor of the peer-reviewed Journals they’ve been published in. Science and Nature are the holy grails of science publications. If you make it in there, it’s really special. (Peer review means that your published research is sent out to a group of other scientists with expertise in your same area, and they try to disprove your findings. If none of them can disprove your findings, your work is considered good until some other research comes along that refutes it. This is the scientific process at work.)

Scientific misconduct–a.k.a. faking or stealing your research results–does happen occasionally within the scientific community, as well as flukes and accidents, and that’s why the peer-review process exists. It’s meant to be a filter to catch anything that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If a scientific paper has not been through the peer-review process, it’s considered far less credible than one that has, because it hasn’t been put to the test.

In the scientific community, when someone has engaged in scientific misconduct, they lose any and all credibility. How can anyone ever trust what you’re saying if you’ve lied about your results, stolen another researcher’s work (which they’ve often been working on their entire adult lives), or constantly put out sloppy test results? This is the problem with Judy Mikovits (Plandemic). Mikovits lied multiple times in her documentary, she also lied about her research, and she stole research. Even though she has a Ph.D., she’s not considered a credible source by anyone in the scientific community (note the publication of this article is 2011, years before Mikovits went viral) due to all of the above, and her research results having been refuted by peer-review. No one could replicate it, and for science to be proven, it has to have a repeatable result. (It is worth noting that since writing this blog post, Mikki Willis, the man who directed Plandemic and interviewed Mikovitz on camera, was identified as one of the rioters who mobbed the Capitol building on January 6th, 20201. Willis can be seen in the video footage on several news networks standing in the middle of a group of people chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” He was also captured on video speaking to other members of the mob by reporters from the New York Times.)

As a journalist writing about science or any other subject, you have to be able to digest and understand what the experts are talking about, but you, yourself, do not carry the credibility in the subject matter–the credibility lies with the people you interview. That’s why you interview subject-matter experts. For you, the credibility comes with whether or not you are presenting the information from the interview accurately, within its proper context, citing credible sources, and presenting the information in a balanced way (i.e. presenting multiple, and especially opposing perspectives on an issue). Anything that doesn’t do this can be considered biased.

Credible sources for a journalist would be people with academic credentials, credible eye-witnesses, business people with many years of experience, etc. It’s a journalist’s job to check and verify the credentials of a source. It’s also that journalist’s job to cite that person’s credentials in the story. A journalist should also directly verify every piece of information included in an article before it’s published.

It’s an editor’s job to ensure that this happens and that all quality control measures are in place prior to a publication–similar to the peer-review process. It’s also their job to make sure a piece is marketable to their target audience. Is this content the audience cares about? Is this something they’ll want to read? Is this a headline they will click on?

If a journalist repeatedly publishes content that doesn’t meet good journalism standards, they risk losing their professional credibility. If an editor repeatedly allows content to be published that doesn’t meet good journalism standards, they risk losing their professional credibility. A couple of editors at the New York Times have recently resigned after publishing articles that they DIDN’T EVEN READ. (You had ONE job…literally, what are you being paid for?)

It’s no secret that certain publications prioritize pandering to their audiences above good journalism. We all know exactly which publications those are. Everyone likes to blame the media, but the truth is, if the audience didn’t click on it, read it, and share it, it wouldn’t make money, there wouldn’t be a market for it, and it wouldn’t happen. Marketability is everything. The media gives people what they want. And people want information that reaffirms their (often biased) worldview. It’s precisely why they read those publications, specifically, in the first place. If you cared about non-biased news, you’d read NPR all day every day, avoid 24-hour cable news networks, and that would be the end of it. (As an aside, documentaries are not necessarily a source of unbiased material, as documentary makers are film-makers, ultimately for entertainment purposes, and under no legal or moral obligation to present an unbiased story and often make documentaries to tell a very specific narrative.)

That now leads us to spirituality… how does one deconstruct their worldview from being so biased? Self-awareness and shadow work! There’s lots of spiritual teachers out there that can help you do that, but how many of them are credible?

Spirituality isn’t something you can really learn from getting a certificate or taking an online course. I personally don’t trust people who tout those kinds of credentials, because experience is hard-earned, and it’s the only thing that gives us true spiritual knowledge. You also can’t go to school to embody spirituality. So what about people who woke up one day and suddenly started channeling? Isn’t that a god-given gift for them to use? Honestly, no. And this is where we come back to hard-earned experience.

The measure of a credible spiritual teacher is the depth of shadow-work they’ve done on themselves.

Shadow work doesn’t happen overnight or when you complete an online course, it happens over the course of a lifetime. You’ll be able to evaluate a credible spiritual teacher because they will embody the following qualities and behaviors:

A good spiritual teacher has been through hell and come out the other side, humbled. A good spiritual teacher has the ability to see situations (and the world) from multiple angles and understand how everyone arrived at their conclusions, but also see the middle ground. A good spiritual teacher knows they are never done learning. Most importantly, a good spiritual teacher doesn’t avoid discomfort, confrontation, or negativity, but handles those situations constructively and with grace.

Not only are these qualities to measure a spiritual teacher by, they’re qualities to measure a good leader by. These qualities are what gives someone’s character credibility. You can have professional credibility and you can have intellectual credibility, but as a spiritual teacher, if you don’t have credibility of character, you really have nothing, because character is the thing you are building through self-awareness, and it’s the thing you are becoming an expert in through your own healing process process.

Xo,

Ash

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