I consider myself a spiritual person—a description of myself I was reluctant to express for many years, because I believed that in claiming to be spiritual I was lacking humility.
Recently, I’ve seen many people from my ‘spiritual’ communities attaching themselves to dangerously misleading conspiracy theories and anti-government movements. These people are being led into ‘echo-chambers’ in their social media feeds that reinforce—as true—the false information they are attaching themselves to.
From people in my ayahuasca circles claiming that we are ‘sheeple’ in line for slaughter (being microchipped through Covid vaccine and testing), to yoga studio owners posting that we are delusional if we can’t see that the government is resetting to a totalitarian regime, to my fellow teachers and colleagues posting videos from their attendance at anti-mask rallies and claiming to know the truth about the Liberal and Hollywood elite trafficking and drinking the fluids of children for their own eternal youth—I am alarmed. And I believe rightly so.
When the first of my ‘conscious’ friends told me about the QAnon theory, I was repulsed and immediately felt a scary vibe. I also thought he was just being whimsical or joking, because I didn’t understand how someone who claims to be ‘awake’ could attach themselves to something so obscure and scary. During the spring I heard more theories from this person—who I assumed was an anomaly and maybe just self-righteous and a little paranoid. Then I started to see mutual friends from the community beginning to share similar beliefs and posting calls for us to wake up. I have a fairly large social media platform and circle of followers and friends—many who claim to be ‘conscious’ and/or spiritual. As these startling posts began to increase in frequency and quantity, I began to question my own beliefs. Am I not actually spiritually awake like I thought I was? Is my type of spiritual vision actually a rarity, and that these people were really privy to something I wasn’t?
Once, when I was still in Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the men I sponsored (who was sceptical of my spiritual beliefs) told me that my spirituality was seen in my recovery community as insincere and attention-seeking. I panicked and immediately started a defensive self-analysis. Was I a fake? Was all of the spiritual stuff I shared and claimed for attention? I could admit that my ego loved the attention I would receive when I was even remotely revered for my ‘wisdom.’ But did this pride nullify my spiritual experience? My late mentor, Brian (RIP), once told me it’s always good to question ourselves and our motives and beliefs so we can own who we really are and be authentic. This was when—through my self-questioning—I arrived at a place where I could claim my identity as a spiritual person. Though I have a tendency to enjoy attention—even the attention I would receive from sharing my spiritual adventures—it is my belief that even if my motives for spiritual practices are attention-seeking in nature, it doesn’t really matter because the actions taken are spiritual in nature and therefore would yield spiritual results despite my most dishonest intentions. And truthfully, while I like acknowledgement, my motivations for most of my spiritual practices are rooted in a quest for peace in my heart and mind.
I’ve become increasingly sensitive to these rapidly replicating heresies and dark claims that being ‘conscious’ and ‘spiritually awake’ means to self-righteously believe you are part of a spiritual elite that has awakened to the truth that the world is governed by–what one author who wrote on the same subject called–nefarious forces. I don’t believe it. I refuse to believe in it. In fact, I believe this type of thinking is linked more to pride and fear, and leads to magical thinking.
I was once part of a Wiccan coven—a Cowan—studying to become a Wiccan priest. My drug addiction caught up with me and got in the way of that pursuit, but that’s another separate story to tell. When I was studying Wicca, the high priestess of my coven told me that all magic is good—that there’s no black magic or white magic, and that the only thing that separates the two is the practitioner’s intent. To be honest though, I was still nervous at my first summer solstice circle that I was going to be slaughtered and sacrificed because I had come willingly. Obviously, I can use to reduce the amount of horror movies I watch, but I’ll look at that later. My experiences with Wicca were very spiritual—because my intent was to better myself (and garner a little attention for being part of an alternative practice—gimme a break though, I was only 22!)
I jumped on the Kabbalah bandwagon for five years in my mid-thirties. And again, while I knew it was trendy, my main approach was that of a seeker—to overcome my own personal negativity and reconcile my relationship with ‘God’. My worlds collided at the Kabbalah Centre when I ran into a friend from Alcoholics Anonymous who whispered that we are lucky for the ego-puncturing we received from our addiction and from the twelve steps in AA, because, he said, while Kabbalah is a fascinating belief system of spiritual (almost religious) self-mastery, there lacked a lot of humility in the community. I’m not dissing Kabbalah—in fact, I loved what I learned through my practice—and I did begin to notice in all communities though, that—spiritual or not—there can be quite a visible lack of humility. I don’t claim to be righteous, because the only reason I can perceive self-righteousness in others is because I’m capable of it myself.
I started unfollowing and blocking certain ‘friends’ who were sharing posts sympathizing with anti-maskers and conspiracy theories. I think this was more of an effort to protect myself and reinforce in my own mind that these theories were wrong and dangerous, so that I had no chance of drifting into those belief systems.
I’m sad to say I’ve even been apprehensive to visit the shamanic circles I was recently exploring ayahuasca with because of the amount of this type of paranoid thinking that it seems pervades the plant medicine community—though I have no fears of the shaman himself.
Why am I writing this?
Because if there’s one area of this global pandemic that I’m struggling in, it’s this shock, disbelief, sense of betrayal and unease I feel from this growing movement of distrust in the government and society in general that’s infiltrated and being blasted by my communities. This piece is my declaration that I’m not of that mindset, and I believe more people like me need to speak up against the conspiracy theories and the dissemination of false information. I don’t care if you think I’m a sheep, asleep or self-righteous. In fact, those that are peddling these claims I believe are operating in fear themselves because of the uncertainty of these times. They are attaching to a theory for a sense of certainty, instead of waiting it out and trusting those on our front lines.
I believe that eating well and exercise, and a better relationship with the earth are the ultimate cures for the coronavirus. But with more than seven billion people on this planet who are caught in a raging and highly contagious pandemic, the messaging of overall health is too late and would take too long. We need these strict physical-distancing measures, and we need the vaccines for the masses. Are some of our leaders benefitting off of the vaccines and lockdowns? And do some of them likely enjoy their power? Of course–it’s called being human and having an ego. Do I believe these types have sinister agendas?
While they are also human and make mistakes and are all capable of ego-driven pursuits, I will trust and put my faith in the people of science who have devoted their entire lives to the study of pandemics and vaccines. I will also continue to apply critical and introspective thinking to all that is presented to me—with a general faith in the goodness of humanity, because I’m a person of faith and spirit, not of unfounded suspicion.