Whenever I talk about decolonization work, I invite us to understand, to decolonize is not to entirely return to the ways of ancient traditions and doing away completely with the advancements of human technology and progress that have served our ability to enhance connections, awareness and understanding of this existence. To decolonize is to recognize what parts of the New World that we are living in and creating forward, are serving our collective liberation and which continue colonial constructions of oppression and degradation of Life.
The process of decolonizing asks us to question what influences our ways of living and demands that we look at the ways we relate honorably to all that contributes our ability to live a fulfilled existence. I invite the examination in this writing of what drives your living, what your vision of life lived looks like- and I invite us to question if all we do, say, create, and exchange in the world speaks to and serves the purpose of attaining the Liberation and continuation of all Life and the world we have been given to live in and for.
This is essential to reclaiming our ancestral teachings and practices- acknowledgement and honoring of all in relation to the acknowledgement and honoring of self. The world that we have inherited from our ancestors, that we have been borrowing from our descendants, that we are creating and contributing to the evolutions and revolutions of- has held capitalism as a key determiner of wellbeing, survival an enjoyment of this world. Capitalism’s agenda is to strip us of our- awareness, accountability and agency that allows us to work toward liberation. How do we carry response-ability, in relation to a world that has been so greatly, and essentially influenced by capitalistic agendas and gain?
We are experiencing an ability to be in understanding and relation to the insidious agendas of Capitalism that shows up in our everyday lives and the Visions of True Liberation that we are collectively realizing and manifesting during this auspicious time in human existence. The emergence of an intersection of these experiences is happening so visibly, and yet the dangers and threats are not being directly addressed. I refuse to let this crucial conversation be left to the wayside- to speak of the complexities of Capitalism’s hold on us is to have the courage to admit and be accountable to the colonized oppressions that we are enabling, perpetuating and growing in our own lives.
I want to focus this conversation, primarily on the path of Divination/Spiritual/Healing work and practice and what it means to understand the birth of Spiritual Capitalism- though I have also seen this happening in the realm of Community Organizing and Social Justice work and practice with Activist Capitalism and feel it important to align the two as allies of oppression to one another in these crucial times of change. I want to pose the contradictions that are arising in how Spiritual work is being commodified more prominently than ever- where the supply and demand dynamics of capitalism are being connected to Spirituality and Ancestral re-membrance work. Corporations are capitalizing on our demand to be aligned in our mind, body, soul wellness. Capitalism has understood that there is a very real emergence of a want l, a desire, a need – to connect to the celestial, to be in line with indigenous learnings of our ancestral lands and to align with the magical/mystical that was stripped from our ancient ancestors to be replaced with this New World.
You can walk into almost any retail store and find idolic objects being sold as home furnishings and decor, natural minerals and natural healing herbs being used in beauty and pampering products and indigenous crafts and artistic/spiritual creations being made into adornments of jewelry and clothing sold as trends. All are being bought and sold at obscene prices for their rarity and for the very visible and tangible power that they hold. Be in awareness that often these items are being gathered, obtained, and exported with exploitation of indigenous peoples and of indigenous lands- where distributors often trick them into selling their goods for a small fraction of what they are going to sell them for, so the margin of their gain will be more profitable.
This conversation moves beyond just the concept of appropriation- because we are examining the ways in which our reclamations of ancestral knowledge, practice, spirit and way of life are being stolen from our motherlands where they were born and are being commodified by the very powers that once tried to strip our knowledge of them from us, that demonized them and tried to erase them in replacement of their own tools of Spiritual control and power. Spiritual Capitalism makes us consumers of spirit, purchasers of prayer, tainting and poisoning our ancestral medicines with misuse of their powers. Where ancestral plants like, pachamama (ayahuasca) are being abused for large sums of money, to bring people quick and constant fixes into spiritual trance and journeying, disconnecting them to this physical Earthly living as escape. And in these acts we shun the very Earth that grew that medicine, and that grew us into existence. Medicine men/womxn of communities knew the deep importance of balance between the Spirit and Earthly realms, and our abilities to travel between, but capitalism has allowed for us to glorify this magic, and to live in contradictions and misguidance when we don’t deeply understand and re-member use, versus abuse of objects, medicines, tools of divination in ceremony and reverence.
In truth, on my own path, I celebrated accessibility of divination tools and knowledge in the way capitalism allows for it in the diaspora. I celebrated the way navigating the attainment of tools and the access to knowledge was coming with more ease the more I opened to my Spiritual path. And then with time I began to see the insidious ways of Capitalism showing up, seeing crystals sold in the furnishing aisles at Target, and sage bundles at Urban Outfitters. What has been even more troubling for me, beyond the commodifying of spiritual, ancestral and indigenous rooted objects, tools and natural minerals and plants- is the way capitalism is slowly poisoning our practices, our healers, our conduits of the earthly and divine.
We see the commercialization and exploitation of the Bruja, the Yogi, the Reiki Master, the Psychic- the mass emergence of practitioners of Spiritual Retreats and Festivals, Shamanistic Journeys, and trainings in spiritual practices from across the globe, where ceremony and ritual is being sold for profit and gain. I do not deny that the emergence of healers, witches, mediums and divine practitioners in the diaspora is powerful, and is beautiful- the way magic and ancestral connection to our divinity is being rediscovered inside of us and resurfaced through us drives my very existence. But, it asks us to reflect on the question: “If you are a healer profiting from Capitalistic Gain, how can you claim connection to honoring the intention of ancestral re-membrance?”
This is an important time for us to question whether the healing and ancestral work we are doing is in service of Liberation and in service of the honorable balance and connection between the Earth and Spirit. What do you serve beyond your own survival? Who do you serve beyond a want to live a commodified understanding of a full, happy and rich life? Whose survival have you invested in? Whose existence are you honoring? What movements are you aligning with, and elevating through the powers of your gifts? Are you willing to answer these questions with the truth of your own shadows- and the insidious influence Colonization, and particularly Capitalism has taken on you?
I have sat in contemplation about how to have this conversation without it falling into solely the culture of “Calling Out”, as the means to hold others accountable. I have wondered how to speak of this process, like all processes of Decolonization, in a way that can feel like an invitation to process, and grow- rather than to shame and offend. We have to be willing to step outside of our experiences and be in acceptance of how and in which ways we allow capitalism to lead us. I have experienced uneasiness in the ways spiritual practice has become so visible through social media (as this is becoming primary source for capitalism to take hold of our attention and to promote the buying of our daily lives).
My wariness is not in regards to the visibility, and the connections and inspiration it is creating. My wariness comes from how social media allows the uses of our gifts to be driven by followers and marketed without any social and spiritual responsibility to the origins of where knowledge is being sourced, without guidance and honoring of elders and indigenous peoples, without acknowledgement of ego being a primary driving force with no connection of your movements and gain to serving the liberation of all the peoples have been and are continuing to be exploited, are suffering in poverty and inhumane living conditions and are dying from the very capitalistic powers that feed your platforms?
In the past, we were in awareness of what it took, what the needs have been for us, and our peoples to survive. We were in understanding of the balance of what it meant to be in exchange with one another to meet those needs. And we were in communion with all earthly and metaphysical entities, assuring that we were taking good care of this shared world and existence. As Colonization implemented structures of power and control, capitalism being at the center, our understanding of the needs of each other’s survival, our care for those needs became tainted. Because of the divisions and disparities that have been created between us, and the unique experiences of oppression we have lived- our needs now look so different from one person to the next. And needs have been manipulated beyond the essentials that should be allotted to all.
Need is not based on simple understanding of a sense of equality and balance and the right for all life to live in wellness, safety and furthermore in a state of fullness and Love any longer- we have been left to misunderstand how the structures of capitalism have left so many in struggle and suffering, with a disproportionation of this Earth’s resources and energies keeping us alive. There are so many without, and few with too much. And we measure the worth of one’s life on illusionary scales of time and money, of labor and earnings, of success and excellence. We are deceived to believe that to be “successful” is what the marker is of a full life- when so many don’t even know where their next meal is coming from, where they are going to sleep tonight, or whether tomorrow will be the day that the military occupation and wars outside their door will bring death their way.
We have lost the ability to see true purpose of serving one another. We have rooted purpose in that capital gain, in the business of living lives that are lavish, materialistic, that support mass production that destroys lands and lives and maintains an imbalance of survival. Because of the traumatic power structures of Capitalism that have shaped our understanding of exchange asking us to think about What to Charge? What our Rate is? What is “fair” by measurement of capitalism, that makes us question what our profit margins are, and what we gain from giving of our services before doing the Sacred Work we have been spiritually called to do? How can we ask for someone’s rate and compare it to one another- without understanding all that each exchange serves, where those shares will be given? How can someone give their service and create gain to purchase the newest and fanciest trends, when someone giving the same service is struggling to place food on the tables of their loved ones? Even further, when someone giving the same service is supporting the collective liberation of their people from colonial oppression?
When your earnings are not accountable to anyone, but yourself, and discount the service of liberation of any, it moves away from the very purpose of healers, shaman, brujas, priestesses, divination and spiritual leaders from our ancient, ancestral past- to serve, protect and ensure the existence of this living. When you are called to Spiritual practice, when you are given awareness of gifts that connect our world with the worlds beyond us, that bring us to be aware of magical order and link us to our ancestors and the divine spirits of all lands we occupy- it is a responsibility. You are meant to work against the very real genocide, torture, degradation of life and to halt the disturbance of balance, the raping and reaping, destruction, of our land/water/sky. Do you allow yourself to know the injustices of the world? To know the injustices of your very communities and people? If all those answering their Sacred Spiritual callings were to understand this in their practices and movements- to ask themselves these questions with a want to align their answers to service of all life- liberation would be laid before us.
But capitalism is alive in so much of what is being practiced, and in the ways so many healers, spiritual practitioners and divination leaders are moving. Without allowing ourselves to own this truth- we become servants to the very powers of colonization that are destroying and killing the people and places who we should be honoring and learning from in the unfolding of our divine paths. We forget that our ancestors before us, and so many indigenous spiritual leaders who still live were silenced, burned and buried for standing in their spiritual powers in service to our people’s lives and liberation. Without our work intentionally serving revolution and liberation, in ourselves and in others, we become agents to Neo-Colonization and the practice of our magic becomes centered on ego, fame and materialism- it is weaponized to serve the maintaining and advancement of Capitalism and the destruction of our collective existence. And the most troubling part is that when being faced with these truths, these shadows in our praxis, there is complacency, there is defensiveness, there is an acceptance of disillusioned truths that your work is not contributing to a new wave of capitalistically configured influence that has been cloaked with a disguise of being “Woke”, healing, and invested in liberation. We lie to ourselves, rather than admitting that there is work to do, or that you are navigating the challenges of being surrounded by capitalism’s influence so predominantly on the daily. We are growing, becoming more aware, and with each moment we gain perspective, it needs to be acknowledged as work we are responsible for doing. When you give away, distance yourself from your responsibility to the liberation of this existence you give away your power and disempower others.
This is not to say you are assuming a role of a savior in service of others because they are unable to serve themselves. I go further to remove this misconception, because this is another way that capitalism has lead us to invest in its insidious teachings. Do not fool yourself that you are above others as your gifts show themselves to the world- check your attachments to being a Healers who should heal others,who has the power to hold space for others, where they become dependent of your circles. This is another way that Spiritual Celebrities have been functioning- not sharing in their gifts to uplift others- creating relationships that make others need the gifts of another, lead by fear, rather than creating empowerment to be support for them find and strengthen their own gifts.
Here, I write this to all of us, including myself on the daily, who are being called to lead through our Divine gifts and in support to others in the upliftment of their own. I ask you to question who and what your walk is serving. We must answer our callings, and let spirit lead us, but we also must be critical about whether the ways our magic/spiritual/divine work is serving the movements toward liberation that are crucial in this time. This is an invitation to shift, to be aware, accountable and agency in our responsibility to the collective liberation of this existence.