When will we realize that irrational hate has no place in the spiritual community?
Every religious group or spiritual movement has its “bad apples,” but the witchcraft and spirituality community seems to have a hard time throwing out its rotten fruit. If you’ve spent time in any online groups in this community, you’ve likely witnessed at least one form of bigotry in passing (especially lately). It’s also likely that you’ve seen nothing done about it, and may have even seen others join-in to support the offending comments. All-too-frequently will you encounter the dismissive “Let’s not get political” in response to a person of color saying that Black Lives Matter. And way too frequently will you see cliques of white women, overflowing with toxic positivity, shame or lambast indigenous commenters for sharing their sadness about the rampant appropriation of their medicines and practices. The bigotry in the witchcraft and spirituality realm is rampant, to say the least, and members of our community are not immune to the brain-rot caused by the likes of Qanon and similar hate cults. So how long are we going to allow this to continue?
Conspiracy Theories and Anti-intellectualism have no Place in Our Community
There is a huge chunk of the spiritual population who frequently fall for every “new age” idea that pops up on social media. These are the same types of people who shun classical education in lieu of charismatic individuals who know how to sound interesting enough to push their agendas without looking like they’re pushing agendas. The strong anti-intellectualist stance of the more “woo woo” among us is the ideal target of these charismatic people. I am not insulting the intellect of those who are misfortunately taken-in by toxic cult mindsets, who have been brainwashed by propagandist right wing news programs, figureheads and politicians. However, it is no secret that a certain mindset already exists which distrusts what they perceive as the status quo, and who are already easily fooled into believing bizarre conspiracy theories — many of which are rooted in antisemitism, racism and anti-science.
These people, who have a strong mistrust in standardized education, mainstream news and medical science, trust people and ideas which only confirm their own philosophies, i.e: Confirmation Bias. They are lulled into a false sense of comfort by someone repeating their own irrational fears, presented as facts and wrapped with harmful subtexts. This is how despicable people like Alex Jones, David Icke and whoever the hell “Q” is, become “famous.” This is how Donald Trump managed to become the President of the United States of America, and how even after he rightfully lost the 2020 election, his supporters continue to believe he somehow won a second term. This harmful anti-intellectualism and downright gullibility has penetrated all groups, and the spiritual community has been complicit for far too long.
Jacob A. Chansley, “The Q Shaman”
The unfortunate “star” of the January 6th terroristic mob that attacked our nation’s Capitol is a member of the witchcraft and spirituality community. Jake Angeli — also known as Jacob A. Chansley, is notoriously known as the Q Shaman, and while the whole world points their fingers and laughs at him, they are also laughing at us. They should be, too. The witchcraft community has long-been permissive of people like Chansley, people who flood our groups with philosophies which range from the bizarre to the offensive — and all under the almost satirical facade of “accepting others beliefs.” It was only a matter of time before a member of the witchcraft community was featured on an evening news program, and it’s no surprise that the controversy surrounds the QAnon cult and its dangerous antisemitic, racist and destructionist points-of-view.
New age bigots know how to conceal their negative ulterior motives with woo-talk and colorful regalia. They know how to spread their hateful points-of-view like a virus, without coming out and speaking them aloud. They dominate new age YouTube channels — and even popular subscription channels on television. People like David Icke push anti-Jewish rhetoric disguised as conspiracy theories about secret reptilian alien races. Every single conspiracy theory focusing on philanthropist George Soros is 100% based in antisemitism. And now members of our community are being suckered into the anti-vaxx crowd and repeating conspiracy theorist chatter about Bill Gates, who isn’t Jewish but is a favored target of right wing groups due to his liberal political affiliation and “elite” financial status.
The problem with the witchcraft and spirituality community, is that when you confront someone with these truths you are met with resistance. Either the individual is so brainwashed by new age ideas and conspiracy theories that you’re unable to get through to them, or you’re accused of stifling someone else’s “path,” by Ne’er-do-wells who are actively permissive of the bigotry that exists in our groups. How long can this go on before another Q Shaman-type commits another atrocious crime that makes all of us look complicit?
Transphobia and Sexism continue to go unchecked as well
The spirituality and witchcraft community isn’t immune to getting stuck in a rut of outdated thinking, just like other religions manage to hold on to archaic ideas. With witchcraft and paganism, it’s especially easy to fall into that rut because historic romanticism already plays a large role in peoples’ practices. Many of these people, unfortunately, conflate the ideas of “the old times” and “the old ways” with the boomer concept of “the good old days.” People like JK Rowling and her already annoying fanbase aren’t helping things either. Nor are some famous figures in the witchcraft community like Z Budapest, who is widely acknowledged as a Trans-Excluding Radical Feminist. These folks speak publicly, oftentimes misusing terms like “sex” and “gender,” and they spread harmful rhetoric that only further contributes to the discrimination of transgender people.
Within the witchcraft and spiritual community, the acceptance of anti-trans sentiment, often paired with misogyny against women or male-centric fetishization of what they call “the divine feminine,” goes completely unchecked. It’s almost always dressed up in overly-spiritual language that glorifies gender roles and equates gender to biological sex. It’s purposely delivered in a way to convince people into believing that a spiritual connection to biological sex exists. This gives them some sort of religious freedom to be bigoted toward people who who are trans or nonbinary — in the same exact ways that Christians hide behind their religious teachings to excuse bigotry and sexism.
All of this continues to get a free pass in the spirituality and witchcraft community, even though there is a growing number of specific groups that serve as safe spaces for people who continue to face this discrimination. The sad fact of the matter is that these “safe spaces” shouldn’t have to exist, but our community has been infiltrated and overrun with toxic philosophies and absurd political alignments. How long can this go unchecked?