Even as an empath, it’s hard to imagine the seething outrage, helplessness, disgust, terror, powerlessness, horror, and understandable hatred Black and Indigenous People of Color and Jewish people must have felt while watching video footage of white supremacists and QAnon followers egged on by a sitting President of their country while some in law enforcement practically rolled out the red carpet for them. Some wore Camp Auschwitz t-shirts. Others waved the Confederate flag. As one commenter said, this felt like a massive gang rape on our country, but especially for BIPOC and Jewish people. The comparison between how peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors on the Capitol steps were tear-gassed to make way for Trump’s photo op versus how weak the police presence was in the Capitol while all of our elected Congresspeople were gathered together in a room to certify our democracy’s election results is downright sickening, not to mention suspicious. Nobody can doubt that if those insurrectionists storming the Capitol were Black, there would have been a massacre in our nation’s seat of democracy. That we got as close as we did to watching Mike Pence or Nancy Pelosi hung by a crazed mob of Proud Boys and QAnon brass in the makeshift gallows erected by these traitors is downright terrifying. That it was all supported by a President who told those attempting a coup “I love you” and “You’re special” makes me crazed, and I’m not a Black or Indigenous woman. I have all but one of the privileges an American can have (I’m not male.) To imagine how this sits with a Black woman or a transgender American or an Indigenous elder or a Holocaust survivor is almost incomprehensible. One of my Black female friends is now planning to expatriate, and I don’t blame her. She doesn’t think it’s safe for her to live here anymore and she plans to seek asylum elsewhere before a real massacre does happen. And make no mistake about it. She’s right. This COULD happen, and if you don’t believe it could, you haven’t studied history.
I also can’t help wondering how it’s going with so many of my colleagues in the yoga, wellness, and spirituality world, the ones who got coopted by pastel Q and conspiracy theory propaganda promoted by right-wing extremists. How are Christiane Northrup, Kelly Brogan, Sayer Ji, JP Sears, JZ Knight, David Wolfe and all the people on the Conspirituality podcast’s “red-pilled” list feeling when they see violent QAnon insurrectionists and Proud Boys cheering each other on while trying to lynch our Vice President and leaders in Congress? Can they now penetrate the delusion to see that this is not a Great Awakening taking us to the 5D but a Great Darkening in our country?
I got trolled by tens of thousands of vicious people in our so-called “spiritual circles” in 2020 because I was posting in support of public health recommendations, Black Lives Matters hashtags, nuanced pro-vaccination posts, and posts suggesting that the California wildfires were indeed related to anthropogenic climate crisis and not just forest mismanagement. I can’t help wondering how are those people who I banned and deleted because they couldn’t seem to respect boundaries against abusing me are feeling right now. As much as it hurt to be treated with such contempt and hatred (because yes, I am a human, and yes, I am sensitive), I feel a strange tenderness towards them now because I know most of them aren’t bad people; they’re hurt people.
I can’t help wondering- are they sickened like I am when they watch the “QAnon shaman” Jake Angeli taint the sanctity of Indigenous healing by calling himself a shaman while dressed in Indigenous clothing that didn’t even try to cover KKK markings on his chest, all while dripping with unbridled hubris that he’s broken into the Capitol as part of mob of insurrectionists? Are all those pastel Q intuitives, alternative health providers, neo-shamans, yoga teachers, life coaches, health coaches, and mind-body medicine doctors still believing all those conspiracy theories, all while an actual conspiracy to overthrow the government was being masterminded by Donald Trump and his followers? Are they so brainwashed by a lunatic that they can’t see that our whole democracy is under threat? Are they able to break through the delusion enough to see that they’ve been lied to, that they got duped, and that it’s time to accept that they’ve made a grave mistake? Do they have the moral strength and psychological health to be able to handle the shame they must feel when they realize which side of history they wound up on?
Shame is a normal emotion, a healthy response to doing something wrong, something that violates your integrity or violates someone else’s boundaries, something that harms other people or harms yourself. We’re supposed to be able to feel healthy shame so we can be motivated to make apologies and make amends, to change our behaviors and admit when we mess up. Are they feeling this necessary shame so they can admit their mistakes, make amends with the people they’ve hurt, and for those in the public eye, publicly recant, even if it means losing a lot of followers? I’m not so sure people will know how to wrestle with that much shame, especially when healthy shame has been so demonized in this country, creating a whole lot of shameless people, but I hope I’m wrong. I hope people can feel their own shame and that, after we rumble with all those feelings, we can welcome people who went down the rabbit hole back into the fold in 2021. If we ostracize them, we only make them more at risk of being isolated and therefore vulnerable to being even more radicalized.
How can we possibly reconcile this? How can a disgusted, horrified spiritual Black woman who is so scared of her government and her fellow countrymates that she’s planning to escape the tyranny of living in the US ever welcome back into our circle the “spiritual white women” who parroted Q conspiracies, voted for “Trump as a lightworker,” believe Covid is a hoax, think Democrats are pedophiles who drink the blood of children, refuse to wear a mask, spout off anti-vaccine propaganda promoted by the likes of Mikki Willis, and insist that All Lives Matter and that it’s actually Antifa storming the Capitol (it’s wasn’t)?
If we can’t even find common ground in our yoga, wellness, and spiritual circles, I fear for the future of this country. Let us do what we can to CALL EACH OTHER BACK IN. I’m not suggesting some spiritual bypass wherein we stuff our rage or hide our grief or pretend we don’t feel disgust, horror, and judgment towards those who betrayed public health measures, defiled democracy, turned their backs on social justice in this country and participated in spreading a lethal virus by refusing to wear masks or socially distance, a virus that unfairly infects and kills our most vulnerable and marginalized pillars of society more than it harms the privileged.
I’m not suggesting there shouldn’t be social or professional or legal consequences. Making a mistake this big sometimes requires losing friends, losing your job, losing money, losing your reputation, or losing your marriage. Those who broke into the Capitol should be held accountable and our President must be punished. I am not talking about calling in the extremists. They are probably beyond inclusion. I am talking about the people who are more like you than they are not like you, the people you’ve loved and lost this year down the rabbit hole.
We will definitely need truth and reconciliation so we can express all those feelings and not jump to some premature forgiveness, and it’s okay to decide that someone who became vulnerable to QAnon is no longer someone you want as your friend, partner, employee, teacher, politician, or doctor.
But at least in our spiritual circles, we need a way to off-ramp those who were truly brainwashed into a cult and now want to get out. We need a way to humanize each other so we don’t just ostracize and abandon those who were traumatized and thereby make them even more vulnerable to cultic manipulation and brainwashing. Just as families do their best to welcome cult members back into the fold when they wake up to their delusions and finally leave the cult, we need to find a way to do the same for our own.
This is part of why we created an online gathering place to do just that- Healing With The Muse. We’ll be using Zoom to host mini-workshops twice a month and also a monthly writing group so we can have difficult conversations with clear safety boundaries, as well as care for ourselves with creative expression, trauma healing, energy healing, music, art, dancing, and breakout rooms where we can talk to one another more intimately. It is our hope that nobody will be shamed by others for what they’ve believed or how they’ve behaved in 2020. It is our desire to call those in our spiritual circles back in, to reunify, to create safe, brave space where we can heal the parts that might have been curious about conspiracies or not understood the gravity of what was actually happening. We hope to help people treat the traumas that cause polarization so we can feel more empathy, first for our own hurt parts, and then for the wounds in others. Both the victims and the perpetrators of white supremacy, patriarchy, conspiratorial thinking, distrust of authority, and capitalist greed leading to widespread poverty in our country stem from trauma. We need healing now more than ever. Sliding scales are available so anyone who is ready for this kind of healing will be made welcome.
Let us feel all our righteous rage and express our horror but also let us dare to find what we can agree upon. I suspect that many in this community agree upon more than we disagree upon. Yes, the things we disagree upon are of dire and life-threatening consequence right now. But let us at least try to humanize one another so we don’t wind up like Nazi Germany or Rwanda. When someone you know comes out of the rabbit hole, feeling like “OMG, what have I done?” instead of saying, “I told you so,” just consider calling them back in. I’m not talking about bypassing accountability or consequences. But for those willing to get help and undergo the trauma treatment necessary to recover from cultic abuse, can we avoid making it worse by rejecting them categorically?
Please, dear God, help us.