Spiritual Gaslighting: A Sad Truth

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I intended to write a post on Pamela Colman Smith first before any other posts. But something has been on my mind lately, and I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. Here it goes: Spiritual Gaslighting and False Positivity. If you are at all familiar with this, then you might be wondering why there has not been enough discussion on it. To be fair, there has been some. But while I have seen the passing article here and there that details something called toxic positivity, there has not been as much focus on the mental health it derails in its attempt to foster a positive community. It has become an unfortunate and dangerous trend in the guise of wellness. I have personal experience with this and know many others who have also had experience with it. This blog post will hopefully highlight ways in which we can identify these trends and what we can do to keep ourselves strong regardless of the community at large. This post is not meant to hurt anyone or make people look bad. This is an examination of observed behaviors from my perspective.

Over the past few months, I’ve done intense shadow work—and honestly, I’ve been doing it for a while and will continue to do it. Shadow work is important. I have even discussed it in my previous posts. Believe me, shadow work can help bring us back to center. But these terms get thrown around frivolously. I have noticed sometimes in the spiritual and wellness community that any mental health issue can get labeled as the result of inadequate shadow work. I am not a psychologist, but as someone who has struggled with mental health issues, this can exacerbate the problem further. It borders on victim blaming. We do not and cannot know anyone’s mental health history without knowing them fully, and even then, we cannot truly know. Therefore, it is critical that we are careful not to diagnose everything as a lack of shadow work. Some circumstances have no rhyme or reason. Some might say it is Karma. Sure, Karma plays a factor—leftover trauma, past grievances, tendencies, etc. which can all be previous life baggage—but we as individuals cannot judge the present by the past. We can only do our best in the present. Therefore, it is imperative to operate from an empathic place and look at things from a loving and bigger perspective.

False positivity ends up on the frontlines whenever something is characterized as not being positive enough to wish it or attract it. Why is it easy for some to manifest and harder for others? We do attract what we are—but we also have to work through the difficulties at our own pace. And we may attract those who care for us in the process. Telling someone that it is their energy that causes them to fail does little to lift them up when they are hurting. External circumstances cannot be controlled. We cannot be so arrogant to ascribe the power of the weather, other individuals, and more to ourselves. Yet, this happens a lot in the spiritual community and gets normalized. “She’s in a dark place. Her energy is bad. Protect yourself around her! Good vibes only!” It sounds innocuous. But it is a form of gaslighting. While there may be legitimate reasons with certain individuals, sadly this gets used to justify gaslighting those afflicted with mental health issues. Once again, we all may have experienced this or been inadvertently guilty of it–it’s confusing to get mixed messages within wellness and spiritual arenas. It’s a learning process and not cause for self-deprecation or for getting angry and remaining bitter. I want to be clear that this is not an attack on spiritual communities.

Allow me to be vulnerable for a moment. I do not wish to throw anyone under the bus or name any names, so that’s not what this is. I’m just sharing my experience. Several years back, I was blamed for “negative energy”–in this case an external circumstance attacking a person’s home and family via the plumbing system in the house–or something to that effect. Firstly, I was not that close with the individual in question and geographically thousands of miles away, so it came out of left field. It went further when this individual spoke to others in my then-circle of “friends” and managed to convince them that I was “bad energy” or an “energy vampire”. Of course, I took it seriously and spiraled further into a dark place of complete alienation and isolation. I was living alone and subject to the mercy of my own harsh thoughts. I was bullied and gaslighted by the others soon after. And I’ll be honest, and also to give the story an accurate depiction in the interest of fairness, let me say that my depression and negativity was hard to handle–and I can absolutely understand anyone needing space from that. But it did not warrant fabricating realities in an attempt to spiritually gaslight me either. Furthermore, when I tried to seek guidance or look for answers to those in the new age and/or spiritual community, I was then told that I created this myself and will have to do “shadow work” to get out of it. My therapist on the other hand saw the situation for what it was—and assured me that I most certainly did not deserve this. After all of this happened–and yes, I came close to losing my life, I completely left spirituality for a while. I never wanted to look at anything related to magick or witchcraft ever again or for any kind of community. And after I came back to center, I was spiritually gaslighted again–this time recently–and in a much more subtle way. It goes to show that we have no assurance that the way we believe we present ourselves is how we are perceived. All we can do is make sure we do our best–and not repeat this behavior to others.

I am happy though that I stayed in the center despite those things, with my own brand of magick, Tarot, and with my Vedic roots and religion. I continue to grow and change. I find myself more interested in Vedic Astrology and Eastern culture and philosophy. It’s not only where I came from—but I understand it much better now. The pandemic has allowed me to come full circle. I see clearly that there needs to be a balance. And thus, we cannot simply ignore the problems in the community in favor of false positivity. But we also cannot stay in the negative either. We just need to recognize that each person’s journey is different but that their inherent worth and dignity is always respected. That is really all we can ask for at this point.

I hope this finds everyone well. This was a harder blog post for me to write than I thought, but necessary. My next post tonight though will definitely be on the inimitable Pamela Colman-Smith, and the one after that will discuss Vedic Astrology and more! Be blessed. Thank you for reading my blog post, beloved readers. Namaste. With love, the Foxy Witch.

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