Gaslighting Spiritual Pathwalking – A Toxic trend in Paganism

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Image –  Natalia Drepina All her own property

How quick we are, as human beings, to ridicule, deride, and dismiss the personal experiences of others, whose visions, contemplations, and expressions are unlike our own.
Sadly in Spiritual realms, where the quest for understanding is meant to be a key to personal enlightenment, this trend continues to spread like a toxic spore amidst the ecosystem.
Following the discussion about Toxic Spirituality there has been a surge in accusational comments that centre around the premise of “making things up” to fit ones spiritual path, which feels to be akin to the psychological analysis of gaslighting in personal relationships;

“Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality.” – Stephanie Sarkis Ph.D. Psychology Today 

The idea behind crudely accusing someone of “making things up” to fit their spiritual path is to accuse them of firstly lying about their authenticity; the premise is to either make them themselves, or others, believe they are inauthentic in their discussions about spirituality. It is designed to attack the freedom of an individual to speak; hounding them into silence, the desired outcome being to destroy a persons belief system or their credibility in the eyes of others.

Regardless of analysis behind the why people feel the need to do this (I would again refer back to the idea that it must be projection of their own shadow) another concept seemed to emerge; that in the form of personal gnosis, all people involved in a Pagan pathwalking (and to some extent, in any spiritual journey) effectively ‘make up’ their spirituality.

That is NOT to say they are false or lying about their path; which is the key difference.

People who flock to Paganism often do so because they desire the freedom to shape their own life and spirituality, they dislike the control of organized religion and find it strangling their creativity and even their right to be who they are as an individual.
Many scriptures are unfortunately used to be exclusive; they condemn whomsoever they see fit for being different, some of the ugliest human discrimination is often excused with religious overtures.

So when people turn to Paganism (which too is derided by many involved in dogmatic religions) it is meant to be to reject those broken principles and instead shape their spiritual destiny; and yet somewhere along the line the human tendancy to exclude once again rears its head, as I have discussed before.

This accusation of “making things up” is an off-shoot of what I have termed the Real Witch Paradox;

There are a hundred ideas as to what constitutes a “real” Witch versus a “fake” one to which an assortment of negative labels are attached, and people duel to the (figurative) death over these concepts which usually they have invented themselves.

Or read somewhere. Or received from the Almighty Holy Turnip of definitions.

The problem with this idea is that it suggests that somewhere, out there in the abyss is a correct answer; which of course is ridiculous, there is not.
Witchcraft is a highly individualised path which is constantly flowing and evolving throughout time; it should not, and arguably cannot become stagnant, lest it die a death within the heart of the practitioner.
– Joey Morris ‘Are you for Real, Witch?’

To seek to gaslight another spiritual practitioner when we are all making up our spiritual path is an absurdity which needs to be nipped in the bud and then powdered with napalm.

Making up elements of our spiritual paths does not make it any less real, truthful, or valid.

For example, consider ones personal altar space.
An altar, to my understanding, is an outward representation of our personal relationship with our Deity or Deities. As such it is a hugely individual expression, of how we see our Gods, and indeed, ourselves.
At some point we all add elements to our personal altars that we felt “guided to” by our intuition, we happily decorate and adorn out of a sense of personal connection, liberation, and dedication.
Many of us peruse the internet to watch videos or find pictures of other peoples altars – we take an interest in the tangible manifestation of a persons spiritual path; occasionally resonating with an idea and wondering if we ourselves should incorporate that symbol, or colour, or statue into our own microcosmic interpretation of Deity.

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Consider how we learn to create spellwork as practitioners of Witchcraft; many of us will analyze available reading or learning material (which, is something someone ‘made up’ and wrote down,) and then craft our own, or how we look at wording and the etymology of language and speech which has evolved through a human need to categorize the world around them; it was ‘made up’ by human beings, and has shifted and evolved throughout time, and culture.

Witchcraft even has the term ‘craft’ within it, which is to create.

Once again, it seems this accusational thread is the terminology of control that seeks to silence the personal individual experience of spirituality instead of to reach out and learn from one another.
The “Us versus Them” mentality is so heavy in the air right now in many walks of life, political, cultural, social, and indeed spiritual… that it becomes more important than ever to speak out against people deriding others for their feelings and experiences.

In meditation, one is transferred to an altered state of consciousness, where we see with eyes that are not our own, we seek to understand a small element of Divinity, knowing, ultimately, that it is one tiny ripple of light across a vast ocean of Spiritual depths that we cannot hope to fully traverse in one lifetime, if ever.
That though, is okay.

The mystery is what makes the journey exciting, to turn over rocks and see what grows there, to follow the roots of a thing deep into the Earth and wonder about the interconnectedness.
To feel a moment of pure spirituality which cannot fully be explained but leaves a swell of pure emotion in the chest that hints at the vastness of the cosmos and our small yet wondrous place within it.
And along that path we take charge our ourselves, our actions, our practices, and we shape them; we are the archetypial Magician who controls their magic, their will, their destiny, we put our hearts, hands, minds, and souls, to a task, to the seeking of whatever it is that sets our passions alight.
In that moment we simultaneously create a path and discover it; for we are paving a personal experience within the ecosystem of spirituality that has always, and will always, exist.

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Image-thepoetryofmaterialthings.tumblr.com

We “make up” pathways of understanding in order to comprehend as best we can, like neurons firing in the brain, we reach out and connect to threads of the universe which echoes all around us.

But just because it worked for us, doesn’t make it ‘right.’

“Because what’s right for us is simply right, right? Wrong, Witches.

This too is an act of making ourselves small; thinking only in terms of our own inner microcosmic existence, afraid to be different from those around us, to see the world through our personal lens whilst acknowledging that really, our experiences, thoughts and feelings only apply to one individual; us.”
– Joanne Morris Ditch being Small, Witch!

Some argue that the opinion of others does not matter, and when they are seeking to demean us, perhaps it does not.
But everyone has the right to be heard, and to have their right to speak respected. We can do that without bowing down or handing power over to anyone.

The excusing of those attacking other spiritual practioners is a trend from dogmatic religion that we don’t need, and should stand against.

Create yourself, Witches. Rock your weird. Do you.
And don’t let anyone tell you that’s not real.

Many blessings Starlets,

Joey

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9 Responses to Gaslighting Spiritual Pathwalking – A Toxic trend in Paganism

  1. Kris Byrd says:

    Love it! Thank you!

  2. Interesting Thoughts!
    It is indeed distressing to Those who are on a ‘non-standardized’ Path
    to have the Validity of such a thing questioned (or more correctly:
    ‘ridiculed and rejected’). I have witnessed many such train-wrecks.

    However, I would like to bring up, perhaps a Point of Order.
    Before one acquires practice and proficiency on a given ‘Flavour’
    (In my case for example: I am 50% Teutonic and 50% Gaelic),
    there can be transitional moments of , ah: ‘Occluded Clarity’? ….

    -Especially if two simultaneously Trod Paths have a history of Conflict- !!!

    But: { IMHO->FWIW->YMMV }

    So (in my case for example), a given state/transition/manifestation
    can be incorrectly Named, or cross-culturally confused. For a while, anyway!
    ( Yes, ideally all those elements will eventually fuse or amalgamate,
    but -early on- there are again, these moments of ‘Occluded Clarity’.)

    Would it not be endemic for those who have Walked the same, or similar) Paths
    to provide a contextual , ah; … … I have no word but ‘correction’.
    Redirection, perhaps? Something along the lines of:
    ‘That ‘painting’ there…? I think it might be “hanging upside down” ‘.

    Put another way, more directly:
    Personal Woo is not Lore, but it May Be confirmed by Lore.
    Likewise: Lore is not Data, but it May Be confirmed by Data.
    How does one approach these subtleties…?

    I have no answers.

  3. Katie Kesterton says:

    So so true! Spirituality is relative only to the individual, Others have no way of knowing how we are experiencing our own path.Your words resonate…..

  4. Craig Schumacher says:

    If you want others to respect your path, you must in turn show them the same respect which you desire.

  5. Arakiba says:

    Gaslighting in paganism? *cough*Heathens on other heathens’ spiritual experiences that don’t match one hundred and ten percent to the lore the Christians who recorded the last dregs of heathen religion said it was like *cough*

  6. arjil says:

    Valid, yes. I left paganism because my experience didn’t fit within that dogma.
    However, there IS a lot of bullshit out there, whether intentional, or people mistaking their personal subjective reality experience and symbol set as being applicable to the rest of the world- which often, it Isn’t.
    I’m ambivalent on this matter- on the one hand, I’ve seen and done things that most, even of occulture, wouldn’t believe. On the other, I’ve had more than a few people feed me a line of obvious bullshit (which I usually politely ignore until they try to forcibly make me a part of their bullshit narrative when I know damned well that’s not what’s going on)

    I dunno. On the one hand, I delve what many in occulture consider “Impossible”, on the other, I wholly Despise the people spewing the bullshit that gives people like me a bad name.

    It takes both wisdom and experience to sort out the valid from the invalid, and the Personal from the Overarching. At least in my experience.

  7. Danielle Spencer says:

    Im also into the UFO/ET community, as well as the pagan view of life, and was gaslighted by my ex husband for all of my alternative beliefs, and to a smaller degree my family, and it took years to recover from that abuse to my self esteem. Its not an easy path to walk, yet if we are not true to ourselves we live a lie, stay controlled and can not assist in any evolution on this world. Thank You for this article! :-)

  8. Claudine Bulpitt says:

    I found that so helpful. It really struck at something deep in me and will help me in the future. It is timely because of various problems that I have encountered along my path and came along just when I needed it. Thank you so much. Blessed be.

  9. Carmilla Redfern says:

    As I have grown in my pagan belief, I tend to steer clear of the internet for information. Especially as an older practitioner, way too many “my path is the best path, and that isn’t right” My spiritual being is mine alone, although I believe no matter what your belief is what people are truly looking for is acceptance or validation. As we grow as humans we should seek this from ourselves. What most religions lack is empathy and kindness, not a higher power. I am always willing to listen and always willing to learn.

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