January 14th 2023 – Karina Lafayette
Growing up, my mom used to kill spiders anytime they came into our house, and since kids mirror their parents, for awhile I did the same thing. Whenever I did this, I would get spider bites the next day, because like any living being, a spider will defend themselves when they feel threatened, or when you threaten anyone they care about. Sometime in my late twenties, I started to notice how fascinating spiders are, with their survival methods and how they spin a web, and killing them no longer made sense. So I got into the habit of trying to catch the spiders in a jar to bring them outside. No more bites.
Of course, it isn’t necessary to like everything that’s around us, spiders included, but you don’t have to like them to keep in mind that they are a living being, and that alone should be enough to show basic respect. If a spider isn’t venomous or threatening, there really isn’t any reason to be rude. It’s not like they want to be in your house either.
But this article isn’t about spiders, that’s just an example of the difference we can make, even the smallest difference, in how we treat each other on the floating rock we live on called Earth. And for some reason, even modern spirituality has forgotten that.
There’s a lot of things that irritate me about modern spirituality, but one thing that irritates me most of all, are people who describe our planet as if it’s something we should be embarrassed to be a part of. It’s become almost trendy to claim to not be of this Earth, and to endorse the idea that we should strive to get away from it. Time and again we hear New Age “coaches” (a.k.a. false prophets) share how the purpose of spirituality is to be able to ascend into a realm higher than our current physical one. That somehow this world is “dirty”, “ghetto”, or something that shouldn’t even exist. And the funny part is the only reason it seems to be any of those things, is because we made it that way. We’re responsible for its pollution, war, poverty, and everything in-between, whether it’s comfortable to admit or not.
I’m guessing some of these people who act like the Earth is a trash bin have never really traveled before, or at best, made an effort to watch the Discovery Channel once in awhile, because if they looked at it from beyond their perspective, they would understand why it deserves better treatment. Last time I checked, this is the same planet that houses their loved ones, their basic needs, and holds everything they claim to love so much. And I get it, sometimes when we’re struggling, it’s hard to see the woods from the trees or to remember that there is goodness out there, but that isn’t an excuse for some of the bad behavior modern spirituality is encouraging these days.
We could easily use spirituality as a reminder of how connected we really are, but no, instead you have some people who treat spirituality like its purpose is to teach you how to manifest becoming the next billionaire, how to gain followers, and how to capitalize on spiritual knowledge in a way that keeps people trapped in an endless need of constant validation that they’re “on the right path”, especially with tarot on social media. The truth is you don’t really need others to tell you whether you’re on the right path, you just need yourself. It’s one thing to want guidance, it’s a whole other to give your power away to someone who doesn’t want you to know that you have any in the first place.
What leads to modern spirituality disrespecting the planet is in the way we use spirituality to escape our problems and ignore real world issues by claiming that “none of this is real”, and that whenever something bad happens, we’re supposed to ignore it. Another thing it boils down to is privilege, and how even the most spiritual person may not recognize that their upbringing is the reason why they may have it easier than others, not because they manifested their whole life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it doesn’t matter how real everything that happens here is, we’re still living it, and that’s enough to be concerned. Last year after Roe v Wade got overturned, I saw some people’s true colors. People who claimed to be kind and just as spiritual as anyone, talking down at me just because I didn’t want to change the subject so they could be comfortable. Because apparently it was more important to protect their feelings than for everyone to face reality.
Well I’m not the type to sugarcoat bullshit, sweetie. Being on this planet should be enough to get angry anytime there’s some type of injustice. You may think you’re doing favors by shutting out uncomfortable topics, but all you’re really doing is making things harder for everyone else.
I’m not exactly sure where we lost our way down the spiritual path, but this has been on my mind a lot, and the more I see people taking tools like tarot, astrology, and mindfulness for selfish reasons, the more I hope spirituality goes underground again. The more I hope that enough people ignore it because maybe society isn’t ready for it after all. Maybe it can only be appreciated in the dark, where you can really see the occult for the beauty that it is. Unless it’s just the opposite, and some of us really have to learn the hard way to appreciate its sacredness. Maybe then people will also try a little harder to love each other a little more, and show more love to our planet as well. All I know is this: you don’t get to call yourself a spiritual person until you see the sacredness in everything, and that especially means loving our planet in all its messiness and drama. You also don’t get to call yourself spiritual until you’ve learned to see things through a perspective outside your own once in a while.
This is a corrupt, twisted way to use spirituality. If we look at spirituality from the perspective of many First Nations, as well as Eastern Religions, we would acknowledge that there was a time where most people understood that everything is connected, they understood the sacredness of our Earth and that it’s part of our job to take care of it. Later on of course, once colonialism came into play and European ancestors came in to erase certain traditions and beliefs, spirituality and religion alike became weaponized as a tool of fear rather than empowerment. Instead of teaching people that nature is sacred and just as much a part of the spirit world as anything else, we started treating it like its purpose is to serve us, when it’s actually the opposite. In reality, everything that you see is a part of the spirit world, whether you can feel it, see it, touch it, taste it, or even whether you know it exists at all. Spirit is tangible and intangible, physical and non-physical.
During a brief moment in the sixties, there was a glimmer of hope. Many alternative movements that were around then had a focus on merging spirituality with activism. As a matter of fact, New Age spirituality was birthed partially by Hippies, and we’ve conveniently forgotten how most of these folks, as peaceful looking as they were, were also the ones standing up to police at rallies, sparking riots, and burning their draft cards. These days being a Hippie is mainly about vaping, bragging about your crystal collection, and confusing escapism with enlightenment- to see this kind of person at a protest or challenging the system, is becoming a rare event. If anything, I’ve seen some of the most traditional-looking people daring to challenge the system more than any so-called-love-and-light-New-Ager ever could.
And of course, our planet has lots of resources, but if we don’t take care of it, the resources will become finite. If you’ve taken a look at the news recently, it’s already started. The way that Mother Nature works is as long as you take care of her, she’ll take care of you, but unfortunately, we’ve forgotten to hold up our side of this unspoken social contract. And you might think that contract doesn’t exist, that we can just live off the land and do whatever we please, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The best way to know how well you’re fulfilling your contract on Earth is to look at how you treat four things: animals, children, the elderly, and people’s feelings.
If you’re someone who kicks at pigeons anytime you go outside and find them flying around; you’re not upholding your side of the contract. If you’re quick to kill spiders or criticize the independence of a cat; you’re not upholding your side of the contract. If you think children are supposed to be seen and not heard and don’t deserve basic respect; you’re not upholding your side of the contract (and you don’t have to be a parent either to show that respect). If you think that people no longer matter after a certain age because they’re no longer able to do things for you; you’re not upholding your side of the contract. If you think that someone else’s pain should be ignored because it isn’t yours; you’re not upholding your side of the contract. No one and nothing exists solely for your benefit, so stop acting like the world revolves around you. It literally is a huge floating rock in space, and all of us matter as much as we feel for each other.
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been reading your posts for a little while and appreciating your words very much as someone who practices but is somewhat jaded by the spiritual community. hope this finds you well.
this post makes me think about how the new age resurgence has made it so white sage is now going extinct. the plant has been colonized, commodified, and turned into an industry and now is becoming scarce because people buy it up and burn it to “manifest” or “get rid of negative energy” instead of doing the internal work or actually removing negative influences from their lives. this is so far removed from the relationship that the indigenous people who originally cultivated and engaged with the plant have with it, and part of me is convinced that a lot of the negatives energies folks are trying to escape from stem from the mindsets that encourage them to commodify the earth in the first place.
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Thank you for your input. I didn’t even think of mentioning the problematic use of sage and all else. That makes the issue even deeper
For some odd reason I often get sparked by your posts… I’ll keep it short and very concise this time. Promise.
I’ve given what you say a lot of thought lately. And I believe there’s considerable conceptual confusion underlying what’s understood as Spirit. As a result, all layers and shapes that the so-called Spirit takes are hyerarchically arranged best case scenario; worst case scenario some are discarded.
(I won’t go here into how personally and socially convenient or inconvenient this fact may have happened to be in some cases. It has certainly served a variety of purposes)
As it turns out, interestingly, different intellectual, ‘spiritual’, philosophical traditions are inadvertently (and most often than not unawarely and unackowledgeably) crosscutting each other at this confusion’s foundation.
And for some (non)-accidental reason, there’s one underlying principle:
The ‘mind’ (or any intangible inner mechanism ‘operating in isolation’) – body/matter ‘divide’,
the former being on top of the latter, in terms of value/worth…
It translates in a variety of forms, i.e: what’s beyond matter (and hence body) is a lot more ‘real’, valuable/ is the real thing. And non-accidentally, it’s been women and various indigenous people’s who have been associated to the latter. At this stage, I can see they’ve actually mostly been more connected to the latter as ‘groupings’, highlighting a difference in how capable some ‘human groupings’ have been (or haven’t been) to tune into Spirit manifesting in matter.
It could be argued that this is about how different ‘affinities’ and sensitivities to the four elements correlate to how each being is specifically wired (astrology comes in handy here) in this sense. However, wider attunement-groupings transcend such explanation attempt.
I read a phrase not long ago, I think it was from astrologer Rob Brezny quoting a dialogue with some friend/colleague of his: ‘patriarchal spirituality’ or ‘spiritual patriarchy’, I can’t remember which way it went, but I found it really interesting…
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that’s really interesting and makes me think. i come from a lineage of african diaspora practices and one of the defining characteristics that unites a lot of the beliefs is that the concept of a mind/body split doesn’t even exist. i wonder how different the world could be if the dominant western ideology was replaced with an understanding of everyone and everything as unified, non-compartmentalized beings.
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Oh wow, thank you, very interesting! May I ask what lineage, if you’d like to share a bit more…?
I’m an anthropologist and many if not most existential stands, experiences and cosmovisions on the planet are not and have not been based on the infamous ‘body/matter-mind’ hyerarchical scheme, but guess which ones have made it to the podium of ‘(grand) spiritual traditions’ at the top in the last thousands of years… (And interesting to note, too, what roles women have been allocated in most of them, too…)
Or should I say ‘spiritual traditions’ point blank? -as opposed to ‘some more or less intriguing animistic tribal belief-systems’, or ‘some exotic hybrid forms of pantheism’, not to mention a colorful Pandora’s box full of ‘weird/phony psychic & mostly femenine practices/experiences across cultures and ‘times’, poor substitutes of real spirituality’-at their best-, call them curanderas, witches, mediums, midwives a.k.a guardians of the veil,…only to name a few)
I also wonder about your last point… And I’d say ‘very different’. A very different world if the western worldview humbly accepted its place and role as one more lens (no more, no less) through which we can observe and interact with some part of our Earthy experience…
BTW, I love your insight and your blunt no BS style. I’ve given this a lot of thought lately, too. I really won’t go into that now 😂, but it seems to me a very tuned in answer to a very spiritual and timely calling now related to growing up Capricornian energy and growing up Capricornian energy style…
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